French poet and dramatist
born June 6, 1606, Rouen, France
died Oct. 1, 1684, Paris
French poet and dramatist, considered the creator of French classical
tragedy. His chief works include Le Cid (1637), Horace (1640), Cinna
(1641), and Polyeucte (1643).
Early life and career.
Pierre Corneille was born into a well-to-do, middle-class Norman family.
His grandfather, father, and an uncle were all lawyers; another uncle
and a brother entered the church; his younger brother, Thomas, became a
well-known poet and popular playwright. Pierre was educated at the
Jesuit school in his hometown, won two prizes for Latin verse
composition, and became a licentiate in law. From 1628 to 1650 he held
the position of king’s counselor in the local office of the department
of waterways and forests.
Corneille’s first play, written before he was 20 and apparently
drawing upon a personal love experience, was an elegant and witty
comedy, Mélite, first performed in Rouen in 1629. When it was repeated
in Paris the following year, it built into a steady (and, according to
Corneille, surprising) success. His next plays were the tragicomedy
Clitandre (performed 1631) and a series of comedies including La Veuve
(performed 1632; The Widow), La Galerie du palais (performed 1633; The
Palace Corridor), La Suivante (performed 1634; The Maidservant), La
Place royale (performed 1634), and L’Illusion comique (performed 1636).
His talent, meanwhile, had come to the attention of the Cardinal de
Richelieu, France’s great statesman, who included the playwright among a
group known as les cinq auteurs (“society of the five authors”), which
the Cardinal had formed to have plays written, the inspiration and
outline of which were provided by himself. Corneille was temperamentally
unsuited to this collective endeavour and irritated Richelieu by
departing from his part (Act III) of the outline for La Comédie des
Tuileries (1635). In the event, Corneille’s contribution was
During these years, support had been growing for a new approach to
tragedy that aimed at “regularity” through observance of what were
called the “classical” unities. Deriving from Italy, this doctrine of
the unities demanded that there be unity of time (strictly, the play’s
events were to be limited to “the period between sunrise and sunset”),
of place (the entire action was to take place in the one locus), and of
action (subplots and the dramatic treatment of more than one situation
were to be avoided). All this was based on a misunderstanding of
Aristotle’s Poetics, in which the philosopher attempted to give a
critical definition of the nature of tragedy. The new theory was first
put into dramatic practice in Jean Mairet’s Sophonisbe (1634), a tragedy
that enjoyed considerable success. Corneille, not directly involved in
the call for regular tragedy of this kind, nevertheless responded to
Sophonisbe by experimenting in the tragic form with Médée (1635). He
then wrote Le Cid (performed early 1637), first issued as a tragicomedy,
later as a tragedy.
Le Cid, now commonly regarded as the most significant play in the
history of French drama, proved an immense popular success. It sparked
off a literary controversy, however, which was chiefly conducted by
Corneille’s rival dramatists, Mairet and Georges de Scudéry, and which
resulted in a bitter pamphlet war. Richelieu, whose motives are not
entirely clear, instructed the then recently instituted Académie
Française to make a judgment on the play: the resulting document (Les
Sentiments de l’Académie française sur la tragi-comédie du Cid, 1637),
drafted in the main by Jean Chapelain, a critic who advocated “regular”
tragedy, was worded tactfully and admitted the play’s beauties but
criticized Le Cid as dramatically implausible and morally defective.
Richelieu used the judgment of the Académie as an excuse for suppressing
public performances of the play.
Corneille, indeed, had not observed the dramatic unities in Le Cid.
The play has nevertheless been generally regarded as the first flowering
of French “classical” tragedy. For the best French drama of the
“classical” period in the 17th century is properly characterized, not so
much by rules—which are no more than a structural convention—as by
emotional concentration on a moral dilemma and on a supreme moment of
truth, when leading characters recognize the depth of their involvement
in this dilemma. In Le Cid, Corneille rejected the discursive treatment
of the subject given in his Spanish source (a long, florid, and violent
play by Guillén de Castro y Bellvis, a 17th-century dramatist),
concentrating instead on a conflict between passionate love and family
loyalty, or honour. Thus Le Cid anticipated the “pure” tragedy of
Racine, in whose work the “classical” concept of tragic intensity at the
moment of self-realization found its most mature and perfect expression.
Corneille seems to have taken to heart the criticisms levelled at Le
Cid, and he wrote nothing for three years (though this time was also
taken up with a lawsuit to prevent the creation of a legal office in
Rouen on a par with his own). In 1640, however, appeared the Roman
tragedy Horace; another, Cinna, appeared in 1641. In 1641 also Corneille
married Marie de Lampérière, the daughter of a local magistrate, who was
to bear him seven children to whom he was a devoted father. Corneille’s
brother Thomas married Marie’s sister, and the two couples lived in
extraordinary harmony, their households hardly separated; the brothers
enjoyed literary amity and mutual assistance.
Le Cid, Horace, Cinna, and Polyeucte, which appeared in 1643, are
together known as Corneille’s “classical tetralogy” and together
represent perhaps his finest body of work for the theatre. Horace was
based on an account by the Roman historian Livy of a legendary combat
between members of the Horatii and Curiatii families, representing Rome
and Alba; Corneille, however, concentrated on the murder by one of the
patriots of his pacifist sister, the whole case afterward being argued
before the king (a “duplicity” of action admitted by Corneille himself,
who otherwise seems by now to have decided to follow the classical
rules). Cinna was about a conspiracy against the first Roman emperor,
Augustus, who checkmates his adversaries by granting them a political
pardon instead of dealing them the expected violent fate, boasting that
he has strength enough to be merciful. The hero of Polyeucte (which many
critics have considered to be Corneille’s finest work), on adopting
Christianity seeks a martyr’s death with almost militaristic fervour,
choosing this as the path to la gloire (“glory”) in another world,
whereas his wife insists that the claims of marriage are as important as
those of religion.
These four plays are charged with an energy peculiar to Corneille.
Their arguments, presented elegantly, rhetorically, in the grand style,
remain firm and sonorous. The alexandrine verse that he employed (though
not exclusively) was used with astonishing flexibility as an instrument
to convey all shades of meaning and expression: irony, anger, soliloquy,
repartee, epigram. Corneille used language not so much to illumine
character as to heighten the clash between concepts, hence the
“sentences” in his poetry which are memorable even outside their
dramatic context. Action here is reaction. These plays concern not so
much what is done as what is resolved, felt, suffered. Their formal
principle is symmetry: presentation, by a poet who was also a lawyer, of
one side of the case, then of the other, of one position followed by its
Contribution to comedy.
The fame of his “classical tetralogy” has tended to obscure the enormous
variety of Corneille’s other drama, and his contribution to the
development of French comedy has not always received its proper due. The
Roman plays were followed by more tragedies: La Mort de Pompée
(performed 1644; The Death of Pompey), Rodogune (performed 1645), which
was one of his greatest successes, Théodore (performed 1646), which was
his first taste of failure, and Héraclius (performed 1647). But in 1643
Corneille had successfully turned to comedy with Le Menteur (The Liar),
following it with the less successful La Suite du Menteur (performed
1645; Sequel to the Liar). Both were lively comedies of intrigue,
adapted from Spanish models; and Le Menteur is the one outstanding
French comedy before the plays of Molière, Corneille’s young
contemporary, who acknowledged its influence on his own work. Le Menteur,
indeed, stands in relation to French classical comedy much as Le Cid
does to tragedy.
In 1647 Corneille moved with his family to Paris and was at last
admitted to the Académie Française, having twice previously been
rejected on the grounds of nonresidence in the capital. Don Sanche
d’Aragon (performed 1650), Andromède (performed 1650), a spectacular
play in which stage machinery was very important, and Nicomède
(performed 1651) were all written during the political upheaval and
civil war of the period known as the Fronde (1648–53), with Don Sanche
in particular carrying contemporary political overtones. In 1651 or 1652
his play Pertharite seems to have been brutally received, and for the
next eight years Corneille wrote nothing for the theatre, concentrating
instead on a verse translation of St. Thomas à Kempis’ Imitatio Christi
(Imitation of Christ), which he completed in 1656, and also working at
critical discourses on his plays that were to be included in a 1660
edition of his collected works.
Years of declining power.
Corneille did not turn again to the theatre until 1659, when, with the
encouragement of the statesman and patron of the arts Nicolas Fouquet,
he presented Oedipe. For the next 14 years he wrote almost one play a
year, including Sertorius (performed 1662) and Attila (performed 1667),
both of which contain an amount of violent and surprising incident.
Corneille’s last plays, indeed, were closer in spirit to his works of
the 1640s than to his classical tragedies. Their plots were endlessly
complicated, their emotional climate close to that of tragicomedy. Other
late plays include La Toison d’or (performed 1660; The Golden Fleece),
his own Sophonisbe (performed 1663), Othon (performed 1664), Agésilas
(performed 1666), and Pulchérie (performed 1672). In collaboration with
Molière and Philippe Quinault he wrote Psyché (1671), a play employing
music, incorporating ballet sequences, and striking a note of lyrical
tenderness. A year earlier, however, he had presented Tite et Bérénice,
in deliberate contest with a play on the same subject by Racine. Its
failure indicated the public’s growing preference for the younger
Corneille’s final play was Suréna (performed 1674), which showed an
uncharacteristic delicacy and sentimental appeal. After this he was
silent except for some beautiful verses, which appeared in 1676,
thanking King Louis XIV for ordering the revival of his plays. Although
not in desperate poverty, Corneille was by no means wealthy; and his
situation was further embarrassed by the intermittent stoppage of a
state pension that had been granted by Richelieu soon after the
appearance of Horace in 1640. Corneille died in his house on the rue
d’Argenteuil, Paris, and was buried in the church of Saint-Roch. No
monument marked his tomb until 1821.
Corneille did not have to wait for “the next age” to do him justice. The
cabal that had led the attack on Le Cid had no effect on the judgment of
the public, and the great men of his time were his fervent admirers.
Balzac praised him; Molière acknowledged him as his master and as the
foremost of dramatists; Racine is said to have assured his son that
Corneille made verses “a hundred times more beautiful” than his own. It
was left to the 18th century, largely because of the criticisms of
Voltaire, to exalt Racine at Corneille’s expense; but the Romantic
critics of the late 18th century began to restore Corneille to his true
It cannot be denied, however, that Corneille signed much verse that
is dull to mediocre. Molière acknowledged this fact by saying: “My
friend Corneille has a familiar who inspires him with the finest verses
in the world. But sometimes the familiar leaves him to shift for
himself, and then he fares very badly.” But the importance of his
pioneer work in the development of French classical theatre cannot be
denied; and, if a poet is to be judged by his best things, Corneille’s
place among the great dramatic poets is beyond question.
Not only did Pierre Corneille produce, for nearly 40 years in all, an
astonishing variety of plays to entertain the French court and the
Parisian middle class: he also prepared the way for a dramatic theatre
that was the envy of Europe throughout the 17th century. His own
contribution to this theatre, moreover, was that of master as much as of
pioneer. Corneille’s excellence as a playwright has long been held to
lie in his ability to depict personal and moral forces in conflict. In
play after play, dramatic situations lead to a finely balanced
discussion of controversial issues. Willpower and self-mastery are
glorified in many of his heroes, who display a heroic energy in meeting
or mastering the dilemma that they face; but Corneille was less
interested in exciting his audiences to pity and fear through visions of
the limits of man’s agony and endurance than he was in stirring them to
admiration of his heroes. Thus, only a few of his plays deal in tragic
emotion. Nevertheless, because his most famous work, Le Cid, anticipated
the tragic intensity of plays by Jean Racine, his younger contemporary,
Corneille has often been referred to as the “father” of French classical
tragedy; and his contribution to the rise of comedy has, in comparison,
often been overlooked. From a 20th-century vantage point, however, it is
as a master of drama that he appears, rather than of tragedy in
Robert J. Nelson
Plays. Le Cid (published 1637); Horace (1641); Cinna, ou La Clemence
d’Auguste (1643); Polyeucte martyr (1643); La Mort de Pompée (1644)—all
in English in The Chief Plays of Corneille, trans. by Lacy Lockert, 2nd
ed. (1957). Rodogune, princesse des Parthes (1647; Rodogune; or, The
Rival Brothers, trans. by S. Aspinwall, 1765); Nicomède (1651; Nicomede,
trans. by J. Dancer, 1671).
Tyре of work: Drama
Author: Pierre Corneille (1606-1684)
Type of plot: Romantic tragedy
Time of plot: Eleventh century
First presented: 1636
Generally ranked as the best of Corneille's works, this tragedy is
considered by many scholars to be the beginning of modern French drama.
The playwright reputedly used as his source Guillen de Castro у Bellvis'
treatment of the Cid legends, which form the basis of Spain's great
medieval epic poem.
Don Rodrigue (ro-dreg'), the Cid, son of aged Don Diegue. As his
father's champion, he kills Don Gomes, mightiest swordsman of Castile.
It appears he may eventually marry Chimene.
Don Diegue (dyeg'), once Spain's greatest warrior.
Chimene (she-men'), the daughter of the slain Don Gomes, who demands
Rodrigue's death in punishment. Later, when he determines to let Sanche
kill him, she begs Rodrigue to defend himself.
Don Gomes (go-meY), the father of Chimene, who quarrels with Diegue over
tutoring the king's son and is slain by Rodrigue.
Don Fernand (fer-nari'), king of Castile, who names Rodrigue "The Cid"
(Lord) after his victory over the Moors in Seville.
Don Sanche (sarish), a suitor of Chimene who challenges Rodrigue to
avenge Gomes' death. The Cid magnanimously spares his life.
Dona Urraque (ii-rak'), the daughter of Fernand, who loves Rodrigue but
yields to Chimene's prior claims.
Because she was the princess royal, the Infanta felt she could not
openly love Rodrigue, a nobleman of lower rank. She encouraged,
therefore, the growing attachment between Chimene and Rodrigue. Chimene
asked her father, Don Gomes, to choose for his son-in-law either
Rodrigue or Sanche. She awaited the choice anxiously; her father was on
his way to court, and she would soon hear his decision. Don Gomes chose
Rodrigue without hesitation, chiefly because of the fame of Don Diegue,
A complication soon arose at court. The king had chosen Don Diegue as
preceptor for his son, the heir apparent. Don Gomes felt that the choice
was unjust. Don Diegue had been the greatest warrior in Castile, but he
was now old. Don Gomes considered himself the doughtiest knight in the
kingdom. In a bitter quarrel Don Gomes unjustly accused Don Diegue of
gaining the king's favor through flattery and deceit. He felt the prince
needed a preceptor who would be a living example, not a teacher who
would dwell in the past. In the quarrel, Don Gomes slapped his older
rival. Don Diegue, too feeble to draw his sword against Don Gomes,
upbraided himself bitterly for having to accept the insult. His only
recourse was to call on his young son to uphold the family honor.
Torn between love and duty, Rodrigue challenged Don Gomes to a duel.
After some hesitation because of Rodrigue's youth and unproved valor.
Don Gomes accepted the challenge of his daughter's suitor. To the
surprise of the court, Rodrigue, the untried novice, killed the
mightiest man in Castile, piercing with his sword the man whom he
respected as his future father-in-law.
Chimene now felt herself in a desperate plight because her love for
Rodrigue was mixed with hatred for the murderer of her father. She
finally decided to avenge her father by seeking justice from the king.
Since she had the right to petition the king, Don Fernand was forced to
hear her pleas. In the scene at court. Don Diegue made a strong
counter-plea for his son. reminding the king that Rodrigue had done only
what honor forced him to do— uphold the family name.
The king was saved from the vexing decision when fierce Moors assaulted
the walls of Seville. Chimene awaited the outcome of the battle with
mixed emotions. The army of Castile returned in triumph, bringing as
captives two Moorish kings. And the man who had inspired and led the
Castilians by his audacity was Rodrigue. The grateful king gave the hero
a new title, The Cid, a Moorish name meaning "lord." The Infanta was
wretched. Although her high position would not allow her to love
Rodrigue, she could love The Cid, a high noble and the hero of Castile.
She showed her nobility by yielding to Chimene's prior right.
Chimene was still bound to seek redress. The king resolved to test her
true feelings. When she entered the throne room, he told her gravely
that Rodrigue had died from battle wounds. Chimene fainted. The king
advised her to follow the promptings of her heart and cease her quest
Still holding duty above love, however, Chimene insisted on her feudal
right of a champion. Sanche, hoping to win the favor of Chimene, offered
to meet Rodrigue in mortal combat and avenge the death of Don Gomes.
Chimene accepted him as her champion. The king decreed that Chimene must
marry the victor.
In private, Rodrigue came to Chimene. Indignant at first, Chimene soon
softened when she learned that Rodrigue had resolved to let himself be
killed because she wished it. Again wavering between love and duty,
Chimene begged him to defend himself as best he could. Sanche went
bravely to meet Rodrigue who easily disarmed his opponent and showed his
magnanimity by refusing to kill Chimene's champion. He sent his sword to
Chimene in token of defeat. As soon as Chimene saw her champion approach
with Rodrigue's sword in his hand, she immediately thought that Rodrigue
was dead. She ran in haste to the king and begged him to change his
edict because she could not bear to wed the slayer of her lover. When
the king told her the truth, that Rodrigue had won, Don Diegue praised
her for at last avowing openly her love. Still Chimene hesitated to take
Rodrigue as her husband. The king understood her plight. He ordered The
Cid to lead an expedition against the Moors. He knew that time would
heal the breach between the lovers. The king was wise.
Fight scene, illustration for 'Le Cid'
by Pierre Corneille (1606-84) engraved by Noel Le Mire
The neoclassical tragedies of seventeenth century France are especially
in need of introductions for a modern audience; Corneille's The Cid only
a little less than most. The Renaissance had seen, among other things,
an intensification of interest in the individual and in the self. This
focusing of interest (amounting almost to a vision of the nature of man)
was in conflict with the medieval view which perceived of man more as a
race than as an individual. The individual was perceived, to be sure,
but perceived as something like a component of society, reproducing it
and assuring its integrity by maintaining binding interrelationships
with other individual members of society both alive and dead. In
Corneille's time, the more romantic tenets of the Renaissance had been
displaced by the neoclassical adoption of the life of reason and order
within a cohesive community; and with this life there came,
understandably, a high regard for honor.
The twentieth century does not easily understand the classical and
neoclassical concern for "honor" because our age is essentially a
romantic one; our concerns are primarily for the immediate future and
the physically alive, concerns of the individual. Romantic love,
concerning itself as it does with physically alive individuals and their
immediate futures, is of extreme importance to us. But honor is based
not upon immediacy or subjectivity but upon loyalty to others
(particularly those to whom one is related by blood ties, marriage, or a
shared set of cultural assumptions) and concern for the opinions of
others. It is not merely a matter of respectfully but radically
differing with one's fellows on moral questions; one's fellows are a
part of oneself; to differ radically with them is to be schizophrenic.
The task then, in living a life of honor, is to live it so that others
approve. For if others do not approve, no man (or woman) in such an age
can approve of himself.
This is the situation of The Cid. The Infanta's dilemma is the keynote
of the play; she must choose between her romantic love for Rodrigue (to
whom she is impelled by her feelings as an individual) and her honor (as
demanded by her ties to her father and her attendant position in
society). Love urges that she make herself available for marriage to
him, but honor insists that she not marry beneath her station. She
chooses honor almost instinctively, even going so far as to take direct
action to decrease her own romantic love; she brings Rodrigue and
Chimene together so as to make him completely unavailable to herself as
a lover. In act 5 she almost succumbs to love, thinking Rodrigue's newly
won glories and title bring him nearly to her social station, but her
lady in waiting (acting as her visible conscience on the stage)
dissuades her. She goes on to aid in the final reconciliation of the
Rodrigue and Chimene each must make the same choice, though their
positions differ from the Infanta's in that theirs are seemingly
impossible. While the Infanta's problem admits of the simplest (though
not the easiest) of solutions, that of not declaring her love, Rodrigue
cannot expect a loving response from the daughter of the man he has
killed, and Chimene cannot give such a response. Both are acting in a
typically honorable fashion, maintaining their fathers' reputations and
foregoing their personal desires. To do less would be to make themselves
less than human. Honor threatens the love affair of Chimene and Rodrigue,
while love threatens the honor of the Infanta.
It will seem to some readers that love wins out in the end over honor,
the honorable scruples of the principal pair having been overcome by
reason and circumstances. But in fact love and honor are synthesized,
neither force canceling out the other. The Infanta's moral position,
being above reproach, is perfect for her role as a proponent of marriage
for the pair. Had she surrendered to her own emotion, she could not have
been nearly so effective a spokesperson on the part of love for others.
Add to this Elvira's chiding and, indeed, the king himself in the role
of matchmaker, and it will be seen that Cor-neille is at some pains to
overcome excessive preoccupation with honor, but only in such a way as
to leave real honor intact and alive.
Until we reach the denouement—Chimene's admission of her love—the
heroine sees herself primarily as the daughter of Don Gomes; her
admission of her feelings to the king and the resolution of the play are
made possible by her being persuaded to see herself primarily as a
member of the Castilian community. As a result of this shift in her
perception of her role, she no longer sees Rodrigue as enemy and begins
to see the Moors in that capacity. As principal bulwark against the
common enemy, Rodrigue both lays the groundwork for this change in
Chimene and is in a unique position to enjoy the benefits of it. Thus,
while upholding the concept of honor in a humanly achievable form, the
play uses a typically romantic process as the underpinnings of its plot:
thesis and antithesis (honor and love) are synthesized.
Critics have seen in this play certain basic similarities to
Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, foremost among which is the feud between
the lovers' families. But a more essential similarity lies in the use of
death by both dramatists as a threat to young love. Both Romeo and
Rodrigue think of death (for themselves) as a solution to their
problems, and both offer the solution with such alacrity as to give rise
to speculations of a death wish on both their parts. Such speculations,
however, have the distinct disadvantage of focusing our attention
entirely upon the character, causing us to ignore the play's overall
Death is not initially the preoccupation of either hero. Both want
simply to marry the ladies they love. Death presents itself to them as a
solution only when this desire becomes both undeniable and impossible to
satisfy. This renders life impossible, and when life begins to seem
impossible the natural impulse is to consign it to a state of
nonexistence (the natural state for any impossibility). Death is the
inevitable threat. But death becomes truly inevitable only when the
character is convinced that his life is indeed impossible, t there is no
way out. Romeo is convinced of this on two occasions; Rodrigue
repeatedly offers himself to Chimene for execution, believing there is
no other solution.
Death, then, is not intrinsic to Rodrigue's character; it is a force
from without, threatening the healthy love relationship with the
ferocity of a tangible monster. There is a level at which most love
comedies are fertility rites, celebrating and promoting the optimism and
fecundity of a society. In such comedies the lovers' eventual wedding
(or promise of one) affirms this social optimism. But when optimism and
fertility are seriously threatened by death, as they are in this play,
we revise our classification of the play and call it a "tragicomedy."
The play ends happily with the promise of a marriage, the protagonists
having avoided death's many invasions into their happiness. But death's
attempts were persistent, and were overcome by the slimmest of margins.
The Cid is Corneille's first major play and is today often considered
his finest. His plays are often compared with those of his younger
contemporary, Racine. Both authors adhered strictly to the neoclassical
unities (action, time, and place), though Racine evidently worked more
comfortably within those restrictions; Corneille reminds us throughout
The Cid that the action occurs within one day, but the day is an
unnaturally full one.
Translation by Roscoe Mongan
Cid Campeador is
the name given in histories, traditions and
songs to the most celebrated of Spain's national
name was Rodrigo or Ruy Diaz (i.e. "son
of Diego"), a Castilian noble by birth. He was
born at Burgos about the year 1040.
so much of the mythical in the history of this
personage that hypercritical writers, such as
Masdeu, have doubted his existence; but recent
researches have succeeded in separating the
historical from the romantic.
Sancho II, son of Ferdinand, he served as
commander of the royal troops. In a war between
the two brothers, Sancho II. and Alfonso VI. of
Leon, due to some dishonorable stratagem on the
part of Rodrigo, Sancho was victorious and his
brother was forced to seek refuge with the
Moorish King of Toledo.
Sancho was assassinated at the siege of Zamora,
and as he left no heir the Castilians had to
acknowledge Alfonso as King. Although Alfonso
never forgave the Cid for having, as leader of
the Castilians, compelled him to swear that he
(the Cid) had no hand in the murder of his
brother Sancho, as a conciliatory measure, he
gave his cousin Ximena, daughter of the Count of
Oviedo, to the Cid in marriage, but afterwards,
in 1081, when he found himself firmly seated on
his own feelings of resentment and incited by
the Leonese nobles, he banished him from the
head of a large body of followers, the Cid
joined the Moorish King of Saragossa, in whose
service he fought against both Moslems and
Christians. It was probably during this exile
that he was first called the Cid, an Arabic
title, which means the lord. He was very
successful in all his battles.
conjunction with Mostain, grandson of Moctadir,
he invaded Valencia in 1088, but afterwards
carried on operations alone, and finally, after
a long siege, made himself master of the city in
June, 1094. He retained possession of Valencia
for five years and reigned like an independent
sovereign over one of the richest territories in
the Peninsula, but died suddenly in 1099 of
anger and grief on hearing that his relative,
Alvar Fañez, had been vanquished and the army
which he had sent to his assistance had been
the Cid's death his wife held Valencia till
1102, when she was obliged to yield to the
Almoravides and fly to Castile, where she died
in 1104. Her remains were placed by those of her
lord in the monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña.
Chimène. Elvira, have you given me a really
true report? Do you conceal nothing that my
father has said?
Elvira. All my feelings within me are still
delighted with it. He esteems Rodrigo as much as
you love him; and if I do not misread his mind,
he will command you to respond to his passion.
Chimène. Tell me then, I beseech you, a
second time, what makes you believe that he
approves of my choice; tell me anew what hope I
ought to entertain from it. A discourse so
charming cannot be too often heard; you cannot
too forcibly promise to the fervor of our love
the sweet liberty of manifesting itself to the
light of day. What answer has he given regarding
the secret suit which Don Sancho and Don Rodrigo
are paying to you? Have you not too clearly
shown the disparity between the two lovers which
inclines me to the one side?
Elvira. No; I have depicted your heart as
filled with an indifference which elates not
either of them
destroys hope, and, without regarding them with
too stern or too gentle an aspect, awaits the
commands of a father to choose a spouse. This
respect has delighted him—his lips and his
countenance gave me at once a worthy testimony
of it; and, since I must again tell you the
tale, this is what he hastened to say to me of
them and of you: 'She is in the right. Both are
worthy of her; both are sprung from a noble,
valiant, and faithful lineage; young but yet who
show by their mien [lit. cause to easily
be read in their eyes] the brilliant valor of
their brave ancestors. Don Rodrigo, above all,
has no feature in his face which is not the
noble [lit. high] representative of a man
of courage [lit. heart], and descends
from a house so prolific in warriors, that they
enter into life [lit. take birth there]
in the midst of laurels. The valor of his
father, in his time without an equal, as long as
his strength endured, was considered a marvel;
the furrows on his brow bear witness to [lit.
have engraved his] exploits, and tell us still
what he formerly was. I predict of the son what
I have seen of the father, and my daughter, in
one word, may love him and please me.' He was
going to the council, the hour for which
approaching, cut short this discourse, which he
had scarcely commenced; but from these few
words, I believe that his mind [lit.
thoughts] is not quite decided between your two
lovers. The king is going to appoint an
instructor for his son, and it is he for whom an
honor so great is designed. This choice is not
doubtful, and his unexampled valor cannot
tolerate that we should fear any competition. As
his high exploits render him without an equal,
in a hope so justifiable he will be without a
rival; and since Don Rodrigo has persuaded his
father, when going out from the council, to
propose the affair. I leave you to
whether he will seize this opportunity [lit.
whether he will take his time well], and whether
all your desires will soon be gratified.
Chimène. It seems, however, that my agitated
soul refuses this joy, and finds itself
overwhelmed by it. One moment gives to fate
different aspects, and in this great happiness I
fear a great reverse.
Elvira. You see this fear happily deceived.
Chimène. Let us go, whatever it may be, to
await the issue.
and a Page.
Infanta (to Page). Page, go, tell Chimène
from me, that to-day she is rather long in
coming to see me, and that my friendship
complains of her tardiness. [Exit Page.]
Leonora. Dear lady, each day the same desire
urges you, and at your interview with her, I see
you every day ask her how her love proceeds.
Infanta. It is not without reason. I have
almost compelled her to receive the arrows with
which her soul is wounded. She loves Rodrigo,
and she holds him from my hand; and by means of
me Don Rodrigo has conquered her disdain. Thus,
having forged the chains of these lovers, I
ought to take an interest in seeing their
troubles at an end.
Leonora. Dear lady, however, amidst their
good fortune you exhibit a grief which proceeds
to excess. Does this love, which fills them both
with gladness, produce in this noble heart [of
yours] profound sadness? And does this great
interest which you take in them render you
unhappy, whilst they are happy? But I proceed
too far, and become indiscreet.
Infanta. My sadness redoubles in keeping the
secret. Listen, listen at length, how I have
struggled; listen what assaults my constancy [lit.
virtue or valor] yet braves. Love is a tyrant
which spares no one. This young cavalier, this
lover which I give [her]—I love him.
Leonora. You love him!
Infanta. Place your hand upon my heart, and
feel [lit. see] how it throbs at the name
of its conqueror! how it recognizes him!
Leonora. Pardon me, dear lady, if I am
wanting in respect in blaming this passion; a
noble princess to so far forget herself as to
admit in her heart a simple [or, humble]
cavalier! And what would the King say?—what
would Castile say? Do you still remember of whom
you are the daughter?
Infanta. I remember it so well, that I would
shed my blood rather than degrade my rank. I
might assuredly answer to thee, that, in noble
souls, worth alone ought to arouse passions;
and, if my love sought to excuse itself, a
thousand famous examples might sanction it. But
I will not follow these—where my honor is
concerned, the captivation of my feelings does
not abate my courage, and I say to myself
always, that, being the daughter of a king, all
other than a monarch is unworthy of me. When I
saw that my heart could not protect itself, I
myself gave away that which I did not dare to
take; and I put, in place of my self, Chimène in
its fetters, and I kindled their passions [lit.
fires] in order to extinguish my own. Be then no
longer surprised if my troubled soul with
impatience awaits their bridal; thou seest that
my happiness [lit. repose] this day
depends upon it. If love lives by hope, it
perishes with it; it is a fire which becomes
extinguished for want of fuel; and, in spite of
my sad lot, if Chimène ever has Rodrigo for a
husband, my hope is dead and my spirit, is
healed. Meanwhile, I endure an incredible
torture; even up to this bridal. Rodrigo is dear
to me; I strive to lose him, and I lose him with
regret, and hence my secret anxiety derives its
origin. I see with sorrow that love compels me
to utter sighs for that [object] which [as a
princess] I must disdain. I feel my spirit
divided into two portions; if my courage is
high, my heart is inflamed [with love]. This
bridal is fatal to me, I fear it, and [yet] I
desire it; I dare to hope from it only an
incomplete joy; my honor and my love have for me
such attractions, that I [shall] die whether it
be accomplished, or whether it be not
Leonora. Dear lady, after that I have
nothing more to say, except that, with you, I
sigh for your misfortunes; I blamed you a short
time since, now I pity you. But since in a
misfortune [i.e. an ill-timed love] so
sweet and so painful, your noble spirit [lit.
virtue] contends against both its charm and its
strength, and repulses its assault and regrets
its allurements, it will restore calmness to
your agitated feelings. Hope then every [good
result] from it, and from the assistance of
time; hope everything from heaven; it is too
just [lit. it has too much justice] to
leave virtue in such a long continued torture.
Infanta. My sweetest hope is to lose hope.
By your commands, Chimène comes to see you.
Infanta (to Leonora). Go and converse
with her in that gallery [yonder].
Leonora. Do you wish to continue in
Infanta. No, I wish, only, in spite of my
myself [lit. to put my features a little
more at leisure]. I follow you.
goes out along with the Page.]
heaven, from which I await my relief, put, at
last, some limit to the misfortune which is
overcoming [lit. possesses] me; secure my
repose, secure my honor. In the happiness of
others I seek my own. This bridal is equally
important to three [parties]; render its
completion more prompt, or my soul more
enduring. To unite these two lovers with a
marriage-tie is to break all my chains and to
end all my sorrows. But I tarry a little too
long; let us go to meet Chimène, and, by
conversation, to relieve our grief.|
Scene IV.—Count de
Don Diego (meeting).
Count. At last you have gained it [or,
prevailed], and the favor of a King raises you
to a rank which was due only to myself; he makes
you Governor of the Prince of Castile.
Diego. This mark of distinction with which
he distinguishes [lit. which he puts
into] my family shows to all that he is just,
and causes it to be sufficiently understood,
that he knows how to recompense bygone services.
Count. However great kings may be, they are
only men [lit. they are that which we
are]; they can make mistakes like other men, and
this choice serves as a proof to all courtiers
that they know how to [or, can] badly
recompense present services.
Diego. Let us speak no more of a choice at
which your mind becomes exasperated. Favor may
have been able to do as much as merit; but we
owe this respect to absolute power, to question
nothing when a king has wished it. To the honor
which he has done me add another—let us join by
a sacred tie my house to yours. You have an only
daughter, and I have an only son; their marriage
may render us for ever more than friends. Grant
us this favor, and accept, him as a son-in-law.
Count. To higher alliances this precious son
ought [or, is likely] to aspire; and the
new splendor of your dignity ought to inflate
his heart with another [higher] vanity. Exercise
that [dignity], sir, and instruct the prince.
Show him how it is necessary to rule a province:
to make the people tremble everywhere under his
law; to fill the good with love, and the wicked
with terror. Add to these virtues those of a
commander: show him how it is necessary to inure
himself to fatigue; in the profession of a
warrior [lit. of Mars] to render himself
without an equal; to pass entire days and nights
on horseback; to sleep all-armed: to storm a
rampart, and to owe to himself alone the winning
of a battle. Instruct him by example, and render
him perfect, bringing your lessons to his notice
by carrying them into effect.
Diego. To instruct himself by example, in
spite of your jealous feelings, he shall read
only the history of my life. There, in a long
succession of glorious deeds, he shall see how
nations ought to be subdued; to attack a
fortress, to marshal an army, and on great
exploits to build his renown.
Count. Living examples have a greater [lit.
another] power. A prince, in a book, learns his
duty but badly [or, imperfectly]; and
what, after all, has this great
years done which one of my days cannot equal? If
you have been valiant, I am so to-day, and this
arm is the strongest support of the kingdom.
Granada and Arragon tremble when this sword
flashes; my name serves as a rampart to all
Castile; without me you would soon pass under
other laws, and you would soon have your enemies
as [lit. for] kings. Each day, each
moment, to increase my glory, adds laurels to
laurels, victory to victory. The prince, by my
side, would make the trial of his courage in the
wars under the shadow of my arm; he would learn
to conquer by seeing me do so; and, to prove
speedily worthy of his high character, he would
Diego. I know it; you serve the king well. I
have seen you fight and command under me, when
[old] age has caused its freezing currents to
flow within my nerves [i.e. "when the
frosts of old age had numbed my nerves"—Jules
Bue], your unexampled [lit. rare]
valor has worthily [lit. well] supplied
my place; in fine, to spare unnecessary words,
you are to-day what I used to be. You see,
nevertheless, that in this rivalry a monarch
places some distinction between us.
Count. That prize which I deserved you have
Diego. He who has gained that [advantage]
over you has deserved it best.
Count. He who can use it to the best
advantage is the most worthy of it.
Diego. To be refused that prize [lit.
it] is not a good sign.
Count. You have gained it by intrigue, being
an old courtier.
Diego. The brilliancy of my noble deeds was
my only recommendation [lit. support].
Count. Let us speak better of it [i.e.
more plainly]: the king does honor to your age.
Diego. The king, when he does it [i.e.
that honor], gives it [lit. measures it]
Count. And for that reason this honor was
due only to me [lit. my arm].
Diego. He who has not been able to obtain it
did not deserve it.
Count. Did not deserve it? I!
Count. Thy impudence, rash old man, shall
have its recompense.
[He gives him
a slap on the face.]
Diego (drawing his sword [lit.
putting the sword in his hand]). Finish
[this outrage], and take my life after such an
insult, the first for which my race has ever had
cause to blush [lit. has seen its brow
Count. And what do you think you can do,
weak as you are [lit. with such
Diego. Oh, heaven! my exhausted strength
fails me in this necessity!
Count. Thy sword is mine; but thou wouldst
be too vain if this discreditable trophy had
laden my hand [i.e. if I had carried away
a trophy so discreditable]. Farewell—adieu!
Cause the prince to read, in spite of jealous
feelings, for his instruction, the history of
thy life. This just punishment of impertinent
language will serve as no small embellishment
Scene V.—Don Diego.
O despair! O inimical old age! Have I then lived
so long only for this disgrace? And have I grown
grey in warlike toils, only to see in one day so
laurels wither? Does my arm [i.e. my
valor], which all Spain admires and looks up to
[lit. with respect]—[does] my arm, which
has so often saved this empire, and so often
strengthened anew the throne of its king, now [lit.
then] betray my cause, and do nothing for me? O
cruel remembrance of my bygone glory! O work of
a lifetime [lit. so many days] effaced in
a day! new dignity fatal to my happiness! lofty
precipice from which mine honor falls! must I
see the count triumph over your splendor, and
die without vengeance, or live in shame? Count,
be now the instructor of my prince! This high
rank becomes [lit. admits] no man without
honor, and thy jealous pride, by this foul [lit.
remarkable] insult, in spite of the choice of
the king, has contrived [lit. has known
how] to render me unworthy of it. And thou,
glorious instrument of my exploits, but yet a
useless ornament of an enfeebled body numbed by
age [lit. all of ice], thou sword,
hitherto to be feared, and which in this insult
has served me for show, and not for defence, go,
abandon henceforth the most dishonored [lit.
the last] of his race; pass, to avenge me, into
Scene VI.—Don Diego
and Don Rodrigo.
Diego. Rodrigo, hast thou courage [lit.
Rodrigo. Any other than my father would have
found that out instantly.
Diego. Welcome wrath! worthy resentment,
most pleasing to my grief! I recognize my blood
in this noble rage; my youth revives in this
ardor so prompt. Come, my son, come, my blood,
come to retrieve my shame—come to avenge me!
Rodrigo. Of what?
Diego. Of an insult so cruel that it deals a
stroke against the honor of us both—of a blow!
The insolent [man] would have lost his life for
it, but my age deceived my noble ambition; and
this sword, which my arm can no longer wield, I
give up to thine, to avenge and punish. Go
against this presumptuous man, and prove thy
valor: it is only in blood that one can wash
away such an insult; die or slay. Moreover, not
to deceive thee, I give thee to fight a
formidable antagonist [lit. a man to be
feared], I have seen him entirely covered with
blood and dust, carrying everywhere dismay
through an entire army. I have seen by his valor
a hundred squadrons broken; and, to tell thee
still something more—more than brave soldier,
more than great leader, he is——
Rodrigo. Pray, finish.
Diego. The father of Chimène.
Diego. Do not reply; I know thy love. But he
who lives dishonored is unworthy of life; the
dearer the offender the greater the offence. In
short, thou knowest the insult, and thou holdest
[in thy grasp the means of] vengeance. I say no
more to thee. Avenge me, avenge thyself! Show
thyself a son worthy of a father such as I [am].
Overwhelmed by misfortunes to which destiny
reduces me, I go to deplore them. Go, run, fly,
and avenge us!
even to the depth [or, bottom of the
heart] by a blow unexpected as well as deadly,
pitiable avenger of a just quarrel and
unfortunate object of an unjust severity, I
remain motionless, and my dejected soul yields
to the blow which is slaying me. So near
love requited! O heaven, the strange pang [or,
difficulty]! In this insult my father is the
person aggrieved, and the aggressor is the
father of Chimène!
fierce conflicts [of feelings] I experience! My
love is engaged [lit. interests itself]
against my own honor. I must avenge a father and
lose a mistress. The one stimulates my courage,
the other restrains my arm. Reduced to the sad
choice of either betraying my love or of living
as a degraded [man], on both sides my situation
is wretched [lit. evil is infinite]. O
heaven, the strange pang [or,
difficulty]! Must I leave an insult unavenged?
Must I punish the father of Chimène?
mistress, honor, love—noble and severe
restraint—a bondage still to be beloved [lit.
beloved tyranny], all my pleasures are dead, or
my glory is sullied. The one renders me unhappy;
the other unworthy of life. Dear and cruel hope
of a soul noble but still enamored, worthy enemy
of my greatest happiness, thou sword which
causest my painful anxiety, hast thou been given
to me to avenge my honor? Hast thou been given
to me to lose Chimène?
better to rush [lit. run] to death. I owe
[a duty] to my mistress as well as to my father.
I draw, in avenging myself, her hatred and her
rage; I draw upon myself his [i.e. my
father's] contempt by not avenging myself. To my
sweetest hope the one [alternative] renders me
unfaithful, and the other [alternative] renders
me unworthy of her. My misfortune increases by
seeking a remedy [lit. by wishing to cure
it]. All [supposed reliefs] redoubles my woes.
Come then, my soul [or, beloved sword], and,
since I must die, let us die, at least, without
without obtaining satisfaction! To seek a death
so fatal to my fame! To endure that Spain should
impute to my memory [the fact] of having badly
of my house! To respect a love of which my
distracted soul already sees the certain loss.
Let us no more listen to this insidious thought,
which serves only to pain me [or,
contributes only to my painful position]. Come,
mine arm [or, sword], let us save honor,
at least, since, after all, we must lose
spirit was deceived. I owe all to my father
before my mistress.
I die in the combat or die of sadness, I shall
yield up my blood pure as I have received it. I
already accuse myself of too much negligence;
let us haste to vengeance; and quite ashamed of
having wavered so much, let us no more be in
painful suspense, since to-day my father has
been insulted, even though the offender is the
father of Chimène.
Act the Second.
Scene I.—Count de
Count. I acknowledge, between ourselves,
[that] my blood, a little too warm, became too
excited at an expression, and has carried the
matter too far [lit. too high], but,
since it is done, the deed is without remedy.
Arias. To the wishes of the King let this
proud spirit yield; he takes this much to heart,
and his exasperated feelings [lit. heart]
will act against you with full authority. And,
indeed, you have no available defence. The
[high] rank of the person offended, the
greatness of the offence, demand duties and
require more than ordinary reparation.
Count. The King can, at his pleasure,
dispose of my life.
Arias. Your fault is followed by too much
excitement. The King still loves you; appease
his wrath. He has said, "I desire it!"—will you
Count. Sir, to preserve all that esteem
which I retain [or, (other reading), to
preserve my glory and my esteem] to disobey in a
slight degree is not so great a crime, and,
however great that [offence] may be, my
immediate services are more than sufficient to
Arias. Although one perform glorious and
important deeds, a King is never beholden to his
subject. You flatter yourself much, and you
ought to know that he who serves his King well
only does his duty. You will ruin yourself, sir,
by this confidence.
Count. I shall not believe you until I have
experience of it [lit. until after
experience of it].
Arias. You ought to dread the power of a
Count. One day alone does not destroy a man
such as I. Let all his greatness arm itself for
my punishment; all the state shall perish, if I
Arias. What! do you fear so little sovereign
Count. [The sovereign power] of a sceptre
which, without me, would fall from his hand. He
himself has too much interest in my person, and
my head in falling would cause his crown to
Arias. Permit reason to bring back your
senses. Take good advice.
The advice [or, counsel] with regard to
it is [already] taken.
Arias. What shall I say, after all? I am
obliged to give him an account [of this
Count. [Say] that I can never consent to my
Arias. But think that kings will be
Count. The die is cast, sir. Let us speak of
the matter no more.
Arias. Adieu, then, sir, since in vain I try
to persuade you. Notwithstanding [lit.
with] all your laurels, still dread the
Count. I shall await it without fear.
Arias. But not without effect.
Count. We shall see by that Don Diego
satisfied. [Exit Don Arias.] [Alone] He
who fears not death fears not threats. I have a
heart superior to the greatest misfortunes [lit.
above the proudest misfortunes]; and men may
reduce me to live without happiness, but they
cannot compel me to live without honor.
Rodrigo. Here, count, a word or two.
Rodrigo. Relieve me from a doubt. Dost thou
know Don Diego well?
Rodrigo. Let us speak [in] low [tones];
listen. Dost thou know that this old man was the
very [essence of] virtue, valor, and honor in
his time? Dost thou know it?
Count. Perhaps so.
Rodrigo. This fire which I carry in mine
eyes, knowest thou that this is his blood? Dost
thou know it?
Count. What matters it to me?
Rodrigo. Four paces hence I shall cause thee
to know it.
Count. Presumptuous youth!
Rodrigo. Speak without exciting thyself. I
am young, it is true; but in souls nobly born
valor does not depend upon age [lit. wait
for the number of years].
Count. To measure thyself with me! Who [or,
what] has rendered thee so presumptuous—thou,
whom men have never seen with a sword [lit.
arms] in thine hand?
Rodrigo. Men like me do not cause themselves
to be known at a second trial, and they wish [to
perform] masterly strokes for their first
Count. Dost thou know well who I am?
Rodrigo. Yes! Any other man except myself,
at the mere mention of thy name, might tremble
with terror. The laurels with which I see thine
head so covered seem to bear written [upon them]
the prediction of my fall. I attack, like a rash
man, an arm always victorious; but by courage I
shall overcome you [lit. I shall have too
much strength in possessing sufficient courage].
To him who avenges his father nothing is
impossible. Thine arm is unconquered, but not
Count. This noble courage which appears in
the language you hold has shown itself each day
by your eyes; and, believing that I saw in you
the honor of Castile, my soul with pleasure was
destining for you my daughter. I know thy
passion, and I am delighted to see that all its
impulses yield to thy duty; that they have not
weakened this magnanimous ardor; that thy proud
manliness merits my esteem; and that, desiring
as a son-in-law an accomplished cavalier, I was
not deceived in the choice which I had made. But
I feel that for thee my compassion is touched. I
admire thy courage, and I pity thy youth. Seek
not to make thy first attempt [or,
maiden-stroke] fatal. Release my
an unequal conflict; too little honor for me
would attend this victory. In conquering without
danger we triumph without glory. Men would
always believe that thou wert overpowered
without an effort, and I should have only regret
for thy death.
Rodrigo. Thy presumption is followed by a
despicable [lit. unworthy] pity! The man
who dares to deprive me of honor, fears to
deprive me of life!
Count. Withdraw from this place.
Rodrigo. Let us proceed without further
Count. Art thou so tired of life?
Rodrigo. Hast thou such a dread of death?
Count. Come, thou art doing thy duty, and
the son becomes degenerate who survives for one
instant the honor of his father.
Infanta. Soothe, my Chimène, soothe thy
grief; summon up thy firmness in this sudden
misfortune. Thou shalt see a calm again after
this short-lived [lit. feeble] storm. Thy
happiness is overcast [lit. covered] only
by a slight cloud, and thou hast lost nothing in
seeing it [i.e. thine happiness] delayed.
Chimène. My heart, overwhelmed with sorrows,
dares to hope for nothing; a storm so sudden,
which agitates a calm at sea, conveys to us a
threat of an inevitable [lit. certain]
shipwreck. I cannot doubt it: I am being
shipwrecked [lit. I am perishing], even
in harbor. I was loving, I was beloved, and our
fathers were consenting [lit. in
harmony], and I was recounting to you the
delightful intelligence of this at the fatal
moment when this quarrel originated, the fatal
recital of which, as soon as it has been given
to you, has ruined the effect
of such a
dear [lit. sweet] expectation. Accursed
ambition! hateful madness! whose tyranny the
most generous souls are suffering. O [sense of]
honor!-merciless to my dearest desires, how many
tears and sighs art thou going to cost me?
Infanta. Thou hast, in their quarrel, no
reason to be alarmed; one moment has created it,
one moment will extinguish it. It has made too
much noise not to be settled amicably, since
already the king wishes to reconcile them; and
thou knowest that my zeal [lit. soul],
keenly alive to thy sorrows, will do its utmost
[lit. impossibilities] to dry up their
Chimène. Reconciliations are not effected in
such a feud [or, in this manner]; such
deadly insults are not [easily] repaired; in
vain one uses [lit. causes to act] force
or prudence. If the evil be cured, it is [cured]
only in appearance; the hatred which hearts
preserve within feeds fires hidden, but so much
the more ardent.
Infanta. The sacred tie which will unite Don
Rodrigo and Chimène will dispel the hatred of
their hostile sires, and we shall soon see the
stronger [feeling], love, by a happy bridal,
extinguish this discord.
Chimène. I desire it may be so, more than I
expect it. Don Diego is too proud, and I know my
father. I feel tears flow, which I wish to
restrain; the past afflicts me, and I fear the
Infanta. What dost thou fear? Is it the
impotent weakness of an old man?
Chimène. Rodrigo has courage.
Infanta. He is too young.
Chimène. Courageous men become so [i.e.
courageous] at once.
Infanta. You ought not, however, to dread
him much. He is too much enamored to wish to
displease you, and two words from thy lips would
Chimène. If he does not obey me, what a
consummation of my sorrow! And, if he can obey
me, what will men say of him? being of such
noble birth, to endure such an insult! Whether
he yields to, or resists the passion which binds
him to me, my mind can not be otherwise than
either ashamed of his too great deference, or
shocked at a just refusal.
Infanta. Chimène has a proud soul, and,
though deeply interested, she cannot endure one
base [lit. low] thought. But, if up to
the day of reconciliation I make this model
lover my prisoner, and I thus prevent the effect
of his courage, will thine enamored soul take no
umbrage at it?
Chimène. Ah! dear lady, in that case I have
no more anxiety.
Leonora, and a
Infanta. Page, seek Rodrigo, and bring him
The Count de Gormas and he——
Chimène. Good heavens! I tremble!
From this palace have gone out together.
Alone, and they seemed in low tones to be
wrangling with each other.
Chimène. Without doubt they are fighting;
there is no further need of speaking. Madame,
forgive my haste [in thus departing]. [Exeunt
Chimène and Page.]
Infanta. Alas! what uneasiness I feel in my
mind! I weep for her sorrows, [yet still] her
calmness forsakes me, and my passion revives.
That which is going to separate Rodrigo from
Chimène rekindles at once my hope and my pain;
and their separation, which I see with regret,
infuses a secret pleasure in mine enamored soul.
Leonora. This noble pride which reigns in
your soul, does it so soon surrender to this
Infanta. Call it not unworthy, since, seated
in my heart, proud and triumphant, it asserts
its sway [lit. law] over me. Treat it
with respect, since it is so dear to me. My
pride struggles against it, but, in spite of
myself—I hope; and my heart, imperfectly
shielded against such a vain expectation, flies
after a lover whom Chimène has lost.
Leonora. Do you thus let this noble
resolution give way [lit. fall]? And does
reason in your mind thus lose its influence?
Infanta. Ah! with how little effect do we
listen to reason when the heart is assailed by a
poison so delicious, and when the sick man loves
his malady! We can hardly endure that any remedy
should be applied to it.
Leonora. Your hope beguiles you, your malady
is pleasant to you; but, in fact, this Rodrigo
is unworthy of you.
Infanta. I know it only too well; but if my
pride yields, learn how love flatters a heart
which it possesses. If Rodrigo once [or,
only] comes forth from the combat as a
conqueror, if this great warrior falls beneath
his valor, I may consider him worthy of me, and
I may love him without shame. What may he not
do, if he can conquer the Count? I dare to
imagine that, as the least of his exploits,
entire kingdoms will fall beneath his laws; and
my fond love is already persuaded that I behold
him seated on the throne of Granada,
vanquished Moors trembling while paying him
homage; Arragon receiving this new conqueror,
Portugal surrendering, and his victorious
battles [lit. noble days] advancing his
proud destinies beyond the seas, laving his
laurels with the blood of Africans! In fine, all
that is told of the most distinguished warriors
I expect from Rodrigo after this victory, and I
make my love for him the theme of my glory.
Leonora. But, madam, see how far you carry
his exploits [lit. arm] in consequence of
a combat which, perhaps, has no reality!
Infanta. Rodrigo has been insulted; the
Count has committed the outrage; they have gone
out together. Is there need of more?
Leonora. Ah, well! they will fight, since
you will have it so; but will Rodrigo go so far
as you are going?
Infanta. Bear with me [lit. what do
you mean]? I am mad, and my mind wanders; thou
seest by that what evils this love prepares for
me. Come into my private apartment to console my
anxieties, and do not desert me in the trouble I
am in [at present].
Fernando (the King),
and Don Alonzo.
Fernando. The Count is, then, so
presumptuous and so little accessible to reason?
Does he still dare to believe his offence
Arias. Sire, in your name I have long
conversed with him. I have done my utmost, and I
have obtained nothing.
Fernando. Just heavens! Thus, then, a rash
subject has so little respect and anxiety to
please me! He insults Don Diego, and despises
his King! He
to me in the midst of my court! Brave warrior
though he be, great general though he be, I am
well able [lit. I shall know well how] to
tame such a haughty spirit! Were he incarnate
valor [lit. valor itself], and the god of
combats, he shall see what it is not to obey!
Whatever punishment such insolence may have
deserved, I wished at first to treat it [or,
him] without violence; but, since he abuses my
leniency, go instantly [lit. this very
day], and, whether he resists or not, secure his
person. [Exit Don Alonzo.]
Sancho. Perhaps a little time will render
him less rebellious; they came upon him still
boiling with rage, on account of his quarrel.
Sire, in the heat of a first impulse, so noble a
heart yields with difficulty. He sees that he
has done wrong, but a soul so lofty is not so
soon induced to acknowledge its fault.
Fernando. Don Sancho, be silent; and be
warned that he who takes his part renders
Sancho. I obey, and am silent; but in pity,
sire, [permit] two words in his defence.
Fernando. And what can you say?
Sancho. That a soul accustomed to noble
actions cannot lower itself to apologies. It
does not imagine any which can be expressed
without shame; and it is that word alone
that the Count resists. He finds in his duty a
little too much severity, and he would obey you
if he had less heart. Command that his arm,
trained in war's dangers, repair this injury at
the point of the sword: he will give
satisfaction, sire; and, come what may, until he
has been made aware of your decision, here am I
to answer for him.
Fernando. You fail [lit. you are
losing] in respect; but I pardon youth, and I
excuse enthusiasm in a young, courageous heart.
A king, whose prudence
objects in view [than such quarrels], is more
sparing of the blood of his subjects. I watch
over mine; my [watchful] care protects them, as
the head takes care of the limbs which serve it.
Thus your reasoning is not reasoning for me. You
speak as a soldier—I must act as a king; and
whatever others may wish to say, or he may
presume to think, the Count will not part with [lit.
cannot lose] his glory by obeying me. Besides,
the insult affects myself: he has dishonored him
whom I have made the instructor of my son. To
impugn my choice is to challenge me, and to make
an attempt upon the supreme power. Let us speak
of it no more. And now, ten vessels of our old
enemies have been seen to hoist their flags;
near the mouth of the river they have dared to
Arias. The Moors have by force [of arms]
learned to know you, and, so often vanquished,
they have lost heart to risk their lives [lit.
themselves] any more against so great a
Fernando. They will never, without a certain
amount of jealousy, behold my sceptre, in spite
of them, ruling over Andalusia; and this
country, so beautiful, which they too long
enjoyed, is always regarded by them with an
envious eye. This is the sole reason which has
caused us, for the last ten years, to place the
Castilian throne in Seville, in order to watch
them more closely, and, by more prompt action,
immediately to overthrow whatever [design] they
Arias. They know, at the cost of their
noblest leaders [lit. most worthy heads],
how much your presence secures your conquests;
you have nothing to fear.
Fernando. And nothing to neglect—too much
confidence brings on danger; and you are not
ignorant that, with very little difficulty, the
rising tide brings
hither. However, I should be wrong to cause a
panic in the hearts [of the citizens], the news
being uncertain. The dismay which this useless
alarm might produce in the night, which is
approaching, might agitate the town too much.
Cause the guards to be doubled on the walls and
at the fort; for this evening that is
Alonzo. Sire, the Count is dead. Don Diego,
by his son, has avenged his wrong.
Fernando. As soon as I knew of the insult I
foresaw the vengeance, and from that moment I
wished to avert this misfortune.
Alonzo. Chimène approaches to lay her grief
at your feet [lit. brings to your knees
her grief]; she comes all in tears to sue for
justice from you.
Fernando. Much though my soul compassionates
her sorrows, what the Count has done seems to
have deserved this just punishment of his
rashness. Yet, however just his penalty may be,
I cannot lose such a warrior without regret.
After long service rendered to my state, after
his blood has been shed for me a thousand times,
to whatever thoughts his [stubborn] pride
compels me, his loss enfeebles me, and his death
DON ARIAS, and
Chimène. Sire, sire, justice!
Diego. Ah, sire, hear us!
Chimène. I cast myself at your feet!
Diego. I embrace your knees!
Chimène. I demand justice.
Diego. Hear my defence.
Chimène. Punish the presumption of an
audacious youth: he has struck down the support
of your sceptre—he has slain my father!
Diego. He has avenged his own.
Chimène. To the blood of his subjects a king
Diego. For just vengeance there is no
Fernando. Rise, both of you, and speak at
leisure. Chimène, I sympathize with your sorrow;
with an equal grief I feel my own soul
afflicted. (To Don Diego.) You shall
speak afterwards; do not interrupt her
Chimène. Sire, my father is dead! My eyes
have seen his blood gush forth from his noble
breast—that blood which has so often secured
your walls—that blood which has so often won
your battles—that blood which, though all
outpoured, still fumes with rage at seeing
itself shed for any other than for you! Rodrigo,
before your very palace, has just dyed [lit.
covered] the earth with that [blood] which in
the midst of dangers war did not dare to shed!
Faint and pallid, I ran to the spot, and I found
him bereft of life. Pardon my grief, sire, but
my voice fails me at this terrible recital; my
tears and my sighs will better tell you the
Fernando. Take courage, my daughter, and
know that from to-day thy king will serve thee
as a father instead of him.
Chimène. Sire, my anguish is attended with
too much [unavailing] horror! I found him, I
have already said, bereft of life; his breast
was pierced [lit. open], and
upon the [surrounding] dust dictated [lit.
wrote] my duty; or rather his valor, reduced to
this condition, spoke to me through his wound,
and urged me to claim redress; and to make
itself heard by the most just of kings, by these
sad lips, it borrowed my voice. Sire, do not
permit that, under your sway, such license
should reign before your [very] eyes; that the
most valiant with impunity should be exposed to
the thrusts of rashness; that a presumptuous
youth should triumph over their glory, should
imbrue himself with their blood, and scoff at
their memory! If the valiant warrior who has
just been torn from you be not avenged, the
ardor for serving you becomes extinguished. In
fine, my father is dead, and I demand vengeance
more for your interest than for my consolation.
You are a loser in the death of a man of his
position. Avenge it by another's, and [have]
blood for blood! Sacrifice [the victim] not to
me, but to your crown, to your greatness, to
yourself! Sacrifice, I say, sire, to the good of
the state, all those whom such a daring deed
would inflate with pride.
Fernando. Don Diego, reply.
Diego. How worthy of envy is he who, in
losing [life's] vigor, loses life also! And how
a long life brings to nobly minded men, at the
close of their career, an unhappy destiny! I,
whose long labors have gained such great
renown—I, whom hitherto everywhere victory has
followed—I see myself to-day, in consequence of
having lived too long, receiving an insult, and
living vanquished. That which never battle,
siege, or ambuscade could [do]—that which
Arragon or Granada never could [effect], nor all
your enemies, nor all my jealous [rivals], the
Count has done in your palace, almost before
your eyes, [being] jealous of your choice, and
proud of the advantage which the impotence of
him over me. Sire, thus these hairs, grown grey
in harness [i.e. toils of war]—this
blood, so often shed to serve you—this arm,
formerly the terror of a hostile army, would
have sunk into the grave, burdened with
disgrace, if I had not begotten a son worthy of
me, worthy of his country, and worthy of his
king! He has lent me his hand—he has slain the
Count—he has restored my honor—he has washed
away my shame! If the displaying of courage and
resentment, if the avenging of a blow deserves
chastisement, upon me alone should fall the fury
of the storm. When the arm has failed, the head
is punished for it. Whether men call this a
crime or not requires no discussion. Sire, I am
the head, he is the arm only. If Chimène
complains that he has slain her father, he never
would have done that [deed] if I could have done
it [myself]. Sacrifice, then, this head, which
years will soon remove, and preserve for
yourself the arm which can serve you. At the
cost of my blood satisfy Chimène. I do not
resist—I consent to my penalty, and, far from
murmuring at a rigorous decree, dying without
dishonor, I shall die without regret.
Fernando. The matter is of importance, and,
calmly considered, it deserves to be debated in
full council. Don Sancho, re-conduct Chimène to
her abode. Don Diego shall have my palace and
his word of honor as a prison. Bring his son
here to me. I will do you justice.
Chimène. It is just, great king, that a
murderer should die.
Fernando. Take rest, my daughter, and calm
Chimène. To order me rest is to increase my
Act the Third.
Scene I.—Don Rodrigo
Elvira. Rodrigo, what hast them done? Whence
comest thou, unhappy man?
Rodrigo. Here [i.e. to the house of
Chimène], to follow out the sad course of my
Elvira. Whence obtainest thou this audacity,
and this new pride, of appearing in places which
thou hast filled with mourning? What! dost thou
come even here to defy the shade of the Count?
Hast thou not slain him?
Rodrigo. His existence was my shame; my
honor required this deed from my [reluctant]
Elvira. But to seek thy asylum in the house
of the dead! Has ever a murderer made such his
Rodrigo. And I come here only to yield
myself to my judge. Look no more on me with
astonishment [lit. an eye amazed]; I seek
death after having inflicted it. My love is my
judge; my judge is my Chimène. I deserve death
for deserving her hatred, and I am come to
receive, as a supreme blessing, its decree from
her lips, and its stroke from her hand.
Elvira. Fly rather from her sight, fly from
her impetuosity; conceal your presence from her
first excitement. Go! do not expose yourself to
the first impulses which the fiery indignation
of her resentment may give vent to.
Rodrigo. No, no. This beloved one, whom I
[could] so displease, cannot have too wrathful a
desire for my punishment; and I avoid a hundred
deaths which are going to crush me if, by dying
sooner, I can redouble it [i.e. that
Elvira. Chimène is at the palace, bathed in
tears, and will return but too well accompanied.
mercy's sake relieve me from my uneasiness! What
might not people say if they saw you here? Do
you wish that some slanderer, to crown her
misery, should accuse her of tolerating here the
slayer of her father? She will return; she is
coming—I see her; at least, for the sake of
her honor, Rodrigo, conceal thyself!
Scene II.—Don Sancho,
Sancho. Yes, lady, you require a victim [or
revenge] steeped in blood [lit. for you
there is need of bleeding victims]; your wrath
is just and your tears legitimate, and I do not
attempt, by dint of speaking, either to soothe
you or to console you. But, if I may be capable
of serving you, employ my sword to punish the
guilty [one], employ my love to revenge this
death; under your commands my arm will be [only]
Chimène. Unhappy that I am!
Sancho. I implore you, accept my services.
Chimène. I should offend the King, who has
promised me justice.
Sancho. You know that justice [lit.
it] proceeds with such slowness, that very often
crime escapes in consequence of its delay, its
slow and doubtful course causes us to lose too
many tears. Permit that a cavalier may avenge
you by [force of] arms; that method is more
certain and more prompt in punishing.
Chimène. It is the last remedy; and if it is
necessary to have recourse to it, and your pity
for my misfortunes still continues, you shall
then be free to avenge my injury.
Sancho. It is the sole happiness to which my
soul aspires; and, being able to hope for it, I
Chimène. At last I see myself free, and I
can, without constraint, show thee the extent of
my keen sorrows; I can give vent to my sad
sighs; I can unbosom to thee my soul and all my
griefs. My father is dead, Elvira; and the first
sword with which Rodrigo armed himself has cut
his thread of life. Weep, weep, mine eyes, and
dissolve yourselves into tears! The one half of
my life [i.e. Rodrigo] has laid the other
[half, i.e. my father] in the grave, and
compels me to revenge, after this fatal blow,
that which I have no more [i.e. my
father] on that which still remains to me [i.e.
Elvira. Calm yourself, dear lady.
Chimène. Ah! how unsuitably, in a misfortune
so great, thou speakest of calmness. By what
means can my sorrow ever be appeased, if I
cannot hate the hand which has caused it? And
what ought I to hope for but a never-ending
anguish if I follow up a crime, still loving the
Elvira. He deprives you of a father, and you
still love him?
Chimène. It is too little to say love,
Elvira; I adore him! My passion opposes itself
to my resentment; in mine enemy I find my lover,
and I feel that in spite of all my rage Rodrigo
is still contending against my sire in my heart.
He attacks it, he besieges it; it yields, it
defends itself; at one time strong, at one time
weak, at another triumphant. But in this severe
struggle between wrath and love, he rends my
heart without shaking my resolution, and
although my love may have power over me, I do
not consult it [or, hesitate]
my duty. I speed on [lit. run] without
halting [or, weighing the consequences]
where my honor compels me. Rodrigo is very dear
to me; the interest I feel in him grieves me; my
heart takes his part, but, in spite of its
struggles, I know what I am [i.e. a
daughter], and that my father is dead.
Elvira. Do you think of pursuing [or,
Chimène. Ah! cruel thought! and cruel
pursuit to which I see myself compelled. I
demand his head [or, life] and I dread to
obtain it; my death will follow his, and [yet] I
wish to punish him!
Elvira. Abandon, abandon, dear lady, a
design so tragic, and do not impose on yourself
such a tyrannical law.
Chimène. What! my father being dead and
almost in my arms—shall his blood cry for
revenge and I not obtain it? My heart,
shamefully led away by other spells, would
believe that it owed him only ineffectual tears.
And can I endure that an insidious love, beneath
a dastardly apathy, should extinguish my
resolution [lit. beneath a cowardly
silence extinguish my honor]?
Elvira. Dear lady, believe me, you would be
excusable in having less wrath against an object
so beloved, against a lover so dear; you have
done enough, you have seen the King; do not urge
on the result [of that interview]. Do not
persist in this morbid [lit. strange]
Chimène. My honor is at stake; I must avenge
myself; and, however the desires of love may
beguile us, all excuse [for not doing one's
duty] is disgraceful to [i.e. in the
estimation of] noble-minded souls.
Elvira. But you love Rodrigo—he cannot
Chimène. I confess it.
Elvira. After all, what then do you intend
Chimène. To preserve my honor and to end my
sorrow; to pursue him, to destroy him, and to
die after him.
Rodrigo. Well then, without giving you the
trouble of pursuing me, secure for yourself the
honor of preventing me from living.
Chimène. Elvira, where are we, and what do I
see? Rodrigo in my house! Rodrigo before me!
Rodrigo. Spare not my blood; enjoy [lit.
taste], without resistance, the pleasure of my
destruction and of your vengeance.
Rodrigo. Listen to me.
Chimène. I am dying.
Rodrigo. One moment.
Chimène. Go, let me die!
Rodrigo. Four words only; afterwards reply
to me only with this sword!
Chimène. What! still imbrued with the blood
of my father!
Rodrigo. My Chimène.
Chimène. Remove from my sight this hateful
object, which brings as a reproach before mine
eyes thy crime and thy existence.
Rodrigo. Look on it rather to excite thy
hatred, to increase thy wrath and to hasten my
Chimène. It is dyed with my [father's]
Rodrigo. Plunge it in mine, and cause it
thus to lose the death-stain of thine own.
Chimène. Ah! what cruelty, which all in one
the father by the sword [itself], and the
daughter by the sight of it! Remove this object,
I cannot endure it; thou wished me to listen to
thee, and thou causest me to die!
Rodrigo. I do what thou wishest, but without
abandoning the desire of ending by thy hands my
lamentable life; for, in fine, do not expect
[even] from my affection a dastardly repentance
of a justifiable [lit. good] action. The
irreparable effect of a too hasty excitement
dishonored my father and covered me with shame.
Thou knowest how a blow affects a man of
courage. I shared in the insult, I sought out
its author, I saw him, I avenged my honor and my
father; I would do it again if I had it to do.
Not that, indeed, my passion did not long
struggle for thee against my father and myself;
judge of its power—under such an insult, I was
able to deliberate whether I should take
vengeance for it! Compelled to displease thee or
to endure an affront, I thought that in its turn
my arm was too prompt [to strike]; I accused
myself of too much impetuosity, and thy
loveliness, without doubt, would have turned the
scale [or, prevailed overall] had I not
opposed to thy strongest attractions the
[thought] that a man without honor would not
merit thee; that, in spite of this share which I
had in thy affections, she who loved me noble
would hate me shamed; that to listen to thy
love, to obey its voice, would be to render
myself unworthy of it and to condemn thy choice.
I tell thee still, and although I sigh at it,
even to my last sigh I will assuredly repeat it,
I have committed an offence against thee, and I
was driven to [or, bound to commit] it to
efface my shame and to merit thee; but
discharged [from my duty] as regards honor, and
discharged [from duty] towards my father, it is
now to thee that I come to give satisfaction—it
is to offer
to thee my
blood that thou seest me in this place. I did my
duty [lit. that which I ought to have
done] then, I still do it now. I know that a
slain [lit. dead] father arms thee
against my offence; I have not wished to rob
thee of thy victim; sacrifice with courage to
the blood he has lost he who constitutes his
glory in having shed it.
Chimène. Ah, Rodrigo, it is true, although
thine enemy, I cannot blame thee for having
shunned disgrace; and in whatever manner my
griefs burst forth I do not accuse [thee], I
[only] lament my misfortunes. I know what honor
after such an insult demanded with ardor of a
generous courage; thou hast only done the duty
of a man of honor, but also in doing that [duty]
thou hast taught me mine. Thy fatal valor has
instructed me by thy victory—it has avenged thy
father and maintained thy glory. The same care
concerns me, and I have to add to my infliction
[lit. to afflict me] my fame to sustain
and my father to avenge. Alas! thy fate [or,
your share] in this drives me to despair! If any
other misfortune had taken from me my father, my
soul would have found in the happiness of seeing
thee the only relief which it could have
received, and in opposition to my grief I should
have felt a fond delight [lit. charm or a
magic soothing] when a hand so dear would have
wiped away my tears. But I must lose thee after
having lost him. This struggle over my passion
is due to my honor, and this terrible duty,
whose [imperious] command is slaying me, compels
me to exert myself [lit. labor or work]
for thy destruction. For, in fine, do not expect
from my affection any morbid [lit.
cowardly] feelings as to thy punishment. However
strongly my love may plead in thy favor, my
steadfast courage must respond to thine. Even in
offending me, thou hast proved thyself worthy
of me; I
must, by thy death, prove myself worthy of thee.
Rodrigo. Defer, then, no longer that which
honor commands. It demands my head [or,
life], and I yield it to thee; make a sacrifice
of it to this noble duty; the [death] stroke
will be welcome [lit. sweet], as well as
the doom. To await, after my crime, a tardy
justice, is to defer thine honor as well as my
punishment. I should die too happy in dying by
so delightful a [death] blow!
Chimène. Go [i.e. no]; I am thy
prosecutor, and not thy executioner. If thou
offerest me thine head, is it for me to take it;
I ought to attack it, but thou oughtest to
defend it. It is from another than thee that I
must obtain it, and it is my duty [lit. I
ought] to pursue thee, but not to punish thee.
Rodrigo. However in my favor our love may
plead, thy steadfast courage ought to correspond
to mine; and to borrow other arms to avenge a
father is, believe me, my Chimène, not the
[method of] responding to it. My hand alone was
fit [lit. has understood how] to avenge
the insult offered to my father; thy hand
alone ought to take vengeance for thine.
Chimène. O cruel! for what reason shouldst
thou persevere on this point? Thou hast avenged
thyself without aid, and dost thou wish to give
me thine [aid]? I shall follow thy example; and
I have too much courage to endure that my glory
shall be divided with thee. My father and mine
honor shall owe nothing to the dictates of thy
love and of thy despair.
Rodrigo. O cruel resolution [lit.
point of honor]! Alas! whatever I may do, can I
by no means obtain this concession [or,
favor]? In the name of a slain [lit.
dead] father, or of our friendship, punish me
through revenge, or at least through compassion.
lover will have far less pain in dying by thy
hand than in living with thy hatred.
Chimène. Go; I do not hate thee.
Rodrigo. Thou oughtest to do so.
Chimène. I cannot.
Rodrigo. Dost thou so little fear calumny,
and so little [fear] false reports? When people
shall know my crime, and that thy passion [for
me] still continues, what will not envy and
deception spread abroad? Compel them to silence,
and, without debating more, save thy fair fame
by causing me to die.
Chimène. That [fair fame] shines far more
gloriously [lit. better] by leaving thee
life; and I wish that the voice of the blackest
slander should raise to heaven my honor, and
lament my griefs, knowing that I worship thee,
and that [still] I pursue thee [as a criminal].
Go, then; present no more to my unbounded grief
that which I [must] lose, although I love it
[him]! In the shades of night carefully conceal
thy departure; if they see thee going forth, my
honor runs a risk. The only opportunity which
slander can have is to know that I have
tolerated thy presence here. Give it no
opportunity to assail my honor.
Rodrigo. Let me die.
Chimène. Nay, leave me.
Rodrigo. On what art thou resolved?
Chimène. In spite of the glorious love-fires
which impede [lit. trouble] my wrath, I
will do my utmost to avenge my father; but, in
spite of the sternness of such a cruel duty, my
sole desire is to be able to accomplish nothing
Rodrigo. O wondrous love [lit.
miracle of love]!
Chimène. O accumulation of sorrows!
Rodrigo. What misfortunes and tears will our
Chimène. Rodrigo, who would have believed——?
Rodrigo. Chimène, who would have said——?
Chimène. That our happiness was so near, and
would so soon be ruined?
Rodrigo. And that so near the haven,
contrary to all appearances [or,
expectation], a storm so sudden should shatter
Chimène. O deadly griefs!
Rodrigo. O vain regrets!
Chimène. Go, then, again [I beseech thee]; I
can listen to thee no more.
Rodrigo. Adieu! I go to drag along a
lingering life, until it be torn from me by thy
Chimène. If I obtain my purpose, I pledge to
thee my faith to exist not a moment after thee.
Adieu! Go hence, and, above all, take good care
that you are not observed.
Elvira. Dear lady, whatever sorrows heaven
Chimène. Trouble me no more; let me sigh. I
seek for silence and the night in order to weep.
Scene V.—Don Diego.
we experience [lit. taste] perfect joy.
Our most fortunate successes are mingled with
sadness; always some cares, [even] in the
[successful] events, mar the serenity of our
satisfaction. In the midst of happiness my soul
feels their pang: I float in joy, and I tremble
with fear. I have seen [lying] dead the enemy
who had insulted me, yet I am unable to find [lit.
see] the hand which has avenged me. I exert
myself in vain, and with a useless anxiety.
Feeble [lit. broken down; or,
shattered] though I am, I
all the city; this slight degree of vigor, that
my advanced years have left me, expends itself
fruitlessly in seeking this conqueror. At every
moment, at all places, in a night so dark, I
think that I embrace him, and I embrace only a
shadow; and my love, beguiled by this deceitful
object, forms for itself suspicions which
redouble my fear. I do not discover any traces
of his flight. I fear the dead Count's friends
and retinue; their number terrifies me, and
confounds my reason. Rodrigo lives no more, or
breathes in prison! Just heavens! do I still
deceive myself with a shadow only [lit.
an appearance], or do I see, at last, my only
hope? It is he; I doubt it no more. My prayers
are heard, my fear is dispelled, and my trouble
Scene VI.—Don Diego
and Don Rodrigo.
Diego. Rodrigo at last heaven permits that I
should behold thee!
Diego. Mingle not sighs with my joy; let me
take breath in order to praise thee. My valor
has no reason to disown thee; thou hast well
imitated it, and thy brilliant prowess causes
the heroes of my race to live again in thee! It
is from them that thou descendest, it is from me
that thou art sprung. Thy first combat [lit.
sword-stroke] equals all of mine, and thy youth,
fired with a splendid enthusiasm, by this great
proof equals [or, reaches to] my renown.
Prop of mine age, and sum of my happiness, touch
these white hairs, to which thou restorest
honor! Come, kiss this cheek, and recognize the
place on which was branded the insult which thy
Rodrigo. The honor of it belongs to you. I
do less, being sprung from you, and trained
under your careful instruction [lit.
cares]. I consider myself too happy [at the
result], and my soul is delighted that my first
combat [or, maiden-stroke] pleases him to
whom I owe existence. But, amidst your gladness,
be not jealous if, in my turn, I dare to satisfy
myself after you. Permit that in freedom my
despair may burst forth; enough and for too long
your discourse has soothed it. I do not repent
having served you; but give me back the blessing
which that [death] blow has deprived me of. My
arms, in order to serve you, battling against my
passion, by this [otherwise] glorious deed have
deprived me of my love. Say no more to me: for
you I have lost all; what I owed you I have well
Diego. Carry, carry still higher the effect
[lit. fruit] of thy victory. I have given
thee life, and thou restorest to me my honor;
and as much as honor is dearer to me than life,
so much now I owe thee in return. But spurn this
weakness from a noble heart; we have but one
honor—there are many mistresses. Love is but a
pleasure; honor is a duty.
Rodrigo. Ah! what do you say to me?
Diego. That which you ought to know.
Rodrigo. My outraged honor takes vengeance
on myself, and you dare to urge me to the shame
of inconstancy! Disgrace is the same, and
follows equally the soldier without courage and
the faithless lover. Do no wrong, then, to my
fidelity; allow me [to be] brave without
rendering myself perfidious [perjured]. My bonds
are too strong to be thus broken—my faith still
binds me, though I [may] hope no more; and, not
being able to leave nor to win Chimène, the
death which I seek is my most welcome [lit.
Diego. It is not yet time to seek death; thy
thy country have need of thine arm. The fleet,
as was feared, having entered this great river,
hopes to surprise the city and to ravage the
country. The Moors are going to make a descent,
and the tide and the night may, within an hour,
bring them noiselessly to our walls. The court
is in disorder, the people in dismay; we hear
only cries, we see only tears. In this public
calamity, my good fortune has so willed it that
I have found [thronging] to my house five
hundred of my friends, who, knowing the insult
offered to me, impelled by a similar zeal, came
all to offer themselves to avenge my quarrel.
Thou hast anticipated them; but their valiant
hands will be more nobly steeped in the blood of
Africans. Go, march at their head where honor
calls thee; it is thou whom their noble band
would have as a leader. Go, resist the advance
of these ancient enemies; there, if thou wishest
to die, find a glorious death. Seize the
opportunity, since it is presented to thee;
cause your King to owe his safety to your loss;
but rather return from that battle-field [lit.
from it] with the laurels on thy brow. Limit not
thy glory to the avenging of an insult; advance
that glory still further; urge by thy valor this
monarch to pardon, and Chimène to peace. If thou
lovest her, learn that to return as a conqueror
is the sole means of regaining her heart. But
time is too precious to waste in words; I stop
thee in thine attempted answer, and desire that
thou fly [to the rescue]. Come, follow me; go to
the combat, and show the King that what he loses
in the Count he regains in thee.
Act the Fourth.
Chimène. Is it not a false report? Do you
know for certain, Elvira?
Elvira. You could never believe how every
one admires him, and extols to heaven, with one
common voice, the glorious achievements of this
young hero. The Moors appeared before him only
to their shame; their approach was very rapid,
their flight more rapid still. A three hours'
battle left to our warriors a complete victory,
and two kings as prisoners. The valor of their
leader overcame every obstacle [lit.
found no obstacles].
Chimène. And the hand of Rodrigo has wrought
all these wonders!
Elvira. Of his gallant deeds these two kings
are the reward; by his hand they were conquered,
and his hand captured them.
Chimène. From whom couldst thou ascertain
these strange tidings?
Elvira. From the people, who everywhere sing
his praises, [who] call him the object and the
author of their rejoicing, their guardian angel
and their deliverer.
Chimène. And the King—with what an aspect
does he look upon such valor?
Elvira. Rodrigo dares not yet appear in his
presence, but Don Diego, delighted, presents to
him in chains, in the name of this conqueror,
these crowned captives, and asks as a favor from
this generous prince that he condescend to look
upon the hand which has saved the kingdom [lit.
Chimène. But is he not wounded?
Elvira. I have learned nothing of it. You
Recover your spirits.
Chimène. Let me recover then also my
enfeebled resentment; caring for him, must I
forget my own feelings [lit. myself]?
They boast of him, they praise him, and my heart
consents to it; my honor is mute, my duty
impotent. Down [lit. silence], O
[treacherous] love! let my resentment exert
itself [lit. act]; although he has
conquered two kings, he has slain my father!
These mourning robes in which I read my
misfortune are the first-fruits which his valor
has produced; and although others may tell of a
heart so magnanimous, here all objects speak to
me of his crime. Ye who give strength to my
feelings of resentment, veil, crape, robes,
dismal ornaments, funeral garb in which his
first victory enshrouds me, do you sustain
effectually my honor in opposition to my
passion, and when my love shall gain too much
power, remind my spirit of my sad duty; attack,
without fearing anything, a triumphant hand!
Elvira. Calm this excitement; see—here comes
Infanta. I do not come here [vainly] to
console thy sorrows; I come rather to mingle my
sighs with thy tears.
Chimène. Far rather take part in the
universal rejoicings, and taste the happiness
which heaven sends you, dear lady; no one but
myself has a right to sigh. The danger from
which Rodrigo has been able to rescue you, and
the public safety which his arms restore to you,
to me alone to-day still permit tears; he has
saved the city, he has served his King, and his
destructive only to myself.
Infanta. My Chimène, it is true that he has
Chimène. Already this vexatious exclamation
of joy [lit. noise] has reached [lit.
struck] my ears, and I hear him everywhere
proclaimed aloud as brave a warrior as he is an
Infanta. What annoyance can the approving
shouts of the people cause thee? This youthful
Mars whom they praise has hitherto been able to
please thee; he possessed thy heart; he lived
under thy law; and to praise his valor is to
honor thy choice.
Chimène. Every one [else] can praise it with
some justice; but for me his praise is a new
punishment. They aggravate my grief by raising
him so high. I see what I lose, when I see what
he is worth. Ah! cruel tortures to the mind of a
lover! The more I understand his worth, the more
my passion increases; yet my duty is always the
stronger [passion], and, in spite of my love,
endeavors to accomplish his destruction [lit.
to pursue his death].
Infanta. Yesterday, this duty placed thee in
high estimation; the struggle which thou didst
make appeared so magnanimous, so worthy of a
noble heart, that everyone at the court admired
thy resolution and pitied thy love. But wilt
thou believe in the advice of a faithful
Chimène. Not to obey you would render me
Infanta. What was justifiable then is not so
to-day. Rodrigo now is our sole support, the
hope and the idol [lit. love] of a people
that worships him! The prop of Castile and the
terror of the Moor! The King himself recognizes
[lit. is in agreement with] this truth,
that thy father in him alone sees himself
recalled to life: and if, in fine, thou wishest
that I should explain myself
in two words], thou art seeking in his
destruction the public ruin. What! to avenge a
father, is it ever lawful to surrender one's
country into the hands of enemies? Against us is
thy revenge lawful? And must we be punished who
had no share in the crime? After all, it is only
that thou shouldest espouse the man whom a dead
father compelled thee to accuse; I myself would
wish to relieve thee of that desire [lit.
take the desire of that from thee]; take from
him thy love, but leave us his life.
Chimène. Ah! it is not in me to have so much
kindness; the duty which excites me has no
limit. Although my love pleads [lit.
interests itself] for this conqueror, although a
nation worships him, and a King praises him,
although he be surrounded with the most valiant
warriors, I shall endeavor to crush his laurels
beneath my [funereal] cypress.
Infanta. It is a noble feeling when, to
avenge a father, our duty assails a head so
dear; but it is duty of a still nobler order
when ties of blood are sacrificed to the public
[advantage]. No, believe me, it is enough to
quench thy love; he will be too severely
punished if he exists no more in thy affections.
Let the welfare of thy country impose upon thee
this law; and, besides, what dost thou think
that the King will grant thee?
Chimène. He can refuse me, but I cannot keep
Infanta. Reflect well, my [dear] Chimène, on
what thou wishest to do. Adieu; [when] alone
thou cans't think over this at thy leisure.
Chimène. Since my father is slain [lit.
after my dead father], I have no [alternative]
Fernando (the King),
and Don Sancho.
Fernando. Worthy scion of a distinguished
race, which has always been the glory and the
support of Castile! Thou descendant of so many
ancestors signalized by valor, whom the first
attempt of thine own [prowess] has so soon
equalled; my ability to recompense thee is too
limited [lit. small], and I have less
power than thou hast merit. The country
delivered from such a fierce enemy, my sceptre
firmly placed in my hand by thine own [hand],
and the Moors defeated before, amid these
terrors, I could give orders for repulsing their
arms; these are brilliant services which leave
not to thy King the means or the hope of
discharging his debt of gratitude [lit.
acquitting himself] towards thee. But the two
kings, thy captives, shall be thy reward. Both
of them in my presence have named thee their
Cid—since Cid, in their language, is equivalent
to lord, I shall not envy thee this glorious
title of distinction; be thou, henceforth, the
Cid; to that great name let everything yield;
let it overwhelm with terror both Granada and
Toledo, and let it indicate to all those who
live under my laws both how valuable thou art to
me [lit. that which thou art worth to
me], and that [deep obligation] which I owe
Rodrigo. Let your majesty, sire, spare my
modesty. On such an humble service your majesty
[lit. it, referring to majesty] sets too
high a value, and compels me to blush [for
shame] before so great a King, at so little
deserving the honor which I have received from
him. I know too well [the gifts] that I owe to
the welfare of your empire, both the blood which
flows in my veins [lit. animates me] and
the air which I breathe, and even though I
should lose them in such a glorious
for an object so worthy], I should only be doing
the duty of a subject.
Fernando. All those whom that duty enlists
in my service do not discharge it with the same
courage, and when [i.e. unless] valor
attains a high degree, it never produces such
rare successes; allow us then to praise thee,
and tell me more at length the true history of
Rodrigo. Sire, you are aware that in this
urgent danger, which created in the city such a
powerful alarm, a band of friends assembled at
the house of my father prevailed on my spirit,
still much agitated. But, sire, pardon my
rashness if I dared to employ it without your
authority; the danger was approaching; their
[valiant] band was ready; by showing myself at
the court I should have risked my life [lit.
head], and, if I must lose it, it would have
been far more delightful for me to depart from
life while fighting for you.
Fernando. I pardon thy warmth in avenging
the insult offered to thee, and the kingdom
shielded [from danger] pleads [lit.
speaks to me] in thy defence. Be assured that
henceforth Chimène will speak in vain, and I
shall listen to her no more except to comfort
her; but continue.
Rodrigo. Under me, then, this band advances,
and bears in its aspect a manly confidence. At
setting out we were five hundred, but, by a
speedy reinforcement, we saw ourselves
[augmented to] three thousand on arriving at the
port; so surely, on beholding us advance with
such a [determined] aspect, did the most
dismayed recover their courage. Of that brave
host [lit. of it], as soon as we had
arrived, I conceal two-thirds in the holds of
the ships which were found there; the rest,
whose numbers were increasing every hour,
burning with impatience, remain around me; they
the ground, and, without making any noise, they
pass a considerable portion of so auspicious [lit.
beautiful] a night. By my command the guard does
the same, and keeping themselves, concealed aid
my stratagem, and I boldly pretended to have
received from you the order which they see me
follow out, and which I issue to all. This dim
light which falls from the stars, at last with
the tide causes us to see thirty vessels [lit.
sails]; the wave [i.e. the water] swells
beneath them, and, with a mutual effort, the
Moors and the sea advance even to the port. We
let them pass; all seems to them lulled in
repose [lit. tranquil]. No soldiers at
the port, none on the walls of the city. Our
deep silence deceiving their minds, they no
longer dare to doubt that they had taken us by
surprise. They land without fear, they cast
anchor, they disembark and rush forward to
deliver themselves into the hands which are
awaiting them. Then we arise, and all at the
same time utter towards heaven countless ringing
cheers [of defiance]. At these shouts our men
from our ships answer [to the signal]; they
appear armed, the Moors are dismayed, terror
seizes those who had scarcely disembarked,
before fighting they consider themselves
lost—they hastened to plunder and they meet with
war. We press them hard on the water, we press
them hard on the land, and we cause rivulets of
their blood to run before any [of them] can
resist or regain his position. But soon, in
spite of us, their princes rally them, their
courage revives, and their fears are forgotten.
The disgrace of dying without having fought
rallies their disordered ranks [lit.
stops their disorder], and restores to them
their valor. With firmly planted feet they draw
their scimitars against us, and cause a fearful
intermingling of our blood with theirs; and the
land, and the wave, and the fleet, and
are fields of carnage where death is triumphant.
Oh! how many noble deeds, how many brilliant
achievements, were performed unnoticed [lit.
have remained without renown] in the midst of
the gloom, in which each [warrior], sole witness
of the brilliant strokes which he gave, could
not discern to which side fortune inclined. I
went in all directions to encourage our
soldiers, to cause some to advance, and to
support others, to marshal those who were coming
up, to urge them forward in their turn, and I
could not ascertain the result [of the conflict]
until the break of day. But at last the bright
dawn shows us our advantage. The Moor sees his
loss and loses courage suddenly, and, seeing a
reinforcement which had come to assist us, the
ardor for conquest yields to the dread of death.
They gain their ships, they cut their cables,
they utter even to heaven terrific cries, they
make their retreat in confusion and without
reflecting whether their kings can escape with
them. Their fright is too strong to admit of
this duty. The incoming tide brought them here,
the outgoing tide carries them away. Meanwhile
their kings, combating amongst us, and a few of
their [warriors] severely wounded by our blows,
still fight valiantly and sell their lives
dearly. I myself in vain urge them to surrender;
scimitar in hand, they listen not to my
entreaties, but seeing all their soldiers
falling at their feet, and that henceforward
alone they defend themselves in vain, they ask
for the commander; I entitle myself as such, and
they surrender. I sent you them both at the same
time, and the combat ceased for want of
combatants. It is in this manner that for your
Arias, Don Alonzo,
and Don Sancho.
Alonzo. Sire, Chimène comes to demand
justice from you.
Fernando. Vexatious news and unwelcome duty!
Go [Rodrigo]; I do not wish her to see thee.
Instead of thanks I must drive thee away; but,
before departing, come, let thy King embrace
Diego. Chimène pursues him, [yet] she wishes
to save him.
Fernando. They say that she loves him, and I
am going to prove it. Exhibit a more sorrowful
countenance [lit. eye].
Diego, Don Arias,
Fernando. At last, be content, Chimène,
success responds to your wishes. Although
Rodrigo has gained the advantage over our
enemies, he has died before our eyes of the
wounds he has received; return thanks to that
heaven which has avenged you. (To Don Diego.)
See, how already her color is changed!
Diego. But see! she swoons, and in this
swoon, sire, observe the effect of an
overpowering [lit. perfect] love. Her
grief has betrayed the secrets of her soul, and
no longer permits you to doubt her passion.
Chimène. What, then! Is Rodrigo dead?
Fernando. No, no, he still lives [lit.
he sees the day]; and he still preserves for you
an unalterable affection; calm this sorrow which
takes such an interest in his favor.
Chimène. Sire, we swoon from joy, as well as
an excess of pleasure renders us completely
exhausted, and when it takes the mind by
surprise, it overpowers the senses.
Fernando. Dost thou wish that in thy favor
we should believe in impossibilities? Chimène,
thy grief appeared too clearly visible.
Chimène. Well, sire! add this crown to my
misfortune—call my swoon the effect of my grief;
a justifiable dissatisfaction reduced me to that
extremity; his death would have saved his head
from my pursuit. If he had died of wounds
received for the benefit of his country, my
revenge would have been lost, and my designs
betrayed; such a brilliant end [of his
existence] would have been too injurious to me.
I demand his death, but not a glorious one, not
with a glory which raises him so high, not on an
honorable death-bed, but upon a scaffold. Let
him die for my father and not for his country;
let his name be attainted and his memory
blighted. To die for one's country is not a
sorrowful doom; it is to immortalize one's self
by a glorious death! I love then his victory,
and I can do so without criminality; it [the
victory] secures the kingdom and yields to me my
victim. But ennobled, but illustrious amongst
all warriors, the chief crowned with laurels
instead of flowers—and to say in a word what I
think—worthy of being sacrificed to the shade of
my father. Alas! by what [vain] hope do I allow
myself to be carried away? Rodrigo has nothing
to dread from me; what can tears which are
despised avail against him? For him your whole
empire is a sanctuary [lit. a place of
freedom]; there, under your power, everything is
lawful for him; he triumphs over me as [well as]
over his enemies; justice stifled in their blood
that has been shed, serves as a new trophy for
the crime of the conqueror. We increase its
pomp, and contempt of the
us to follow his [triumphal] chariot between two
Fernando. My daughter, these transports are
too violent [lit. have too much
violence]. When justice is rendered, all is put
in the scale. Thy father has been slain, he was
the aggressor; and justice itself commands me
[to have] mercy. Before accusing that [degree of
clemency] which I show, consult well thine
heart; Rodrigo is master of it; and thy love in
secret returns thanks to thy King, whose favor
preserves such a lover for thee.
Chimène. For me! my enemy! the object of my
wrath! the author of my misfortunes? the slayer
of my father! To my just pursuit [of vengeance]
they pay so little attention, that they believe
that they are conferring a favor on me by not
listening to it. Since you refuse justice to my
tears, sire, permit me to have recourse to arms;
it is by that alone that he has been able to
injure me, and it is by that (means) also that I
ought to avenge myself. From all your knights I
demand his head; yes, let one of them bring it
to me, and I will be his prize; let them fight
him, sire, and, the combat being finished, I
[will] espouse the conqueror, if Rodrigo is
slain [lit. punished]. Under your
authority, permit this to be made public.
Fernando. This ancient custom established in
these places, under the guise of punishing an
unjust affront, weakens a kingdom [by depriving
it] of its best warriors; the deplorable success
of this abuse [of power] often crushes the
innocent and shields the guilty. From this
[ordeal] I release Rodrigo; he is too precious
to me to expose him to the [death] blows of
capricious fate; and whatever (offence) a heart
so magnanimous could commit, the Moors, in
carried away his crime.
Chimène. What, sire, for him alone you
reverse the laws, which all the court has so
often seen observed! What will your people
think, and what will envy say, if he screens his
life beneath your shield and he makes it a
pretext not to appear [on a scene] where all men
of honor seek a noble death? Such favors would
too deeply tarnish his glory; let him enjoy [lit.
taste] without shame [lit. blushing] the
fruits of his victory. The count had audacity,
he was able to punish him for it; he [i.e.
Rodrigo] acted like a man of courage, and ought
to maintain it [that character].
Fernando. Since you wish it, I grant that he
shall do so; but a thousand others would take
the place of a vanquished warrior, and the
reward which Chimène has promised to the
conqueror would render all my cavaliers his
enemies; to oppose him alone to all would be too
great an injustice; it is enough, he shall enter
the lists once only. Choose who [what champion]
you will, Chimène, and choose well; but after
this combat ask nothing more.
Diego. Release not by that those whom his
valor [lit. arm] terrifies; leave an open
field which none will [dare to] enter. After
what Rodrigo has shown us to-day, what courage
sufficiently presumptuous would dare to contend
with him? Who would risk his life against such
an opponent? Who will be this valiant, or rather
this rash individual?
Sancho. Open the lists, you see this
assailant; I am this rash or rather this valiant
[champion]. Grant this favor to the zeal which
urges me on; dear lady, you know what your
Fernando. Chimène, do you confide your
quarrel to his hand?
Chimène. Sire, I have promised it.
Fernando. Be ready to-morrow.
Diego. No, sire, there is no need to defer
the contest; a man is always ready when he
Fernando. [What!] To come forth from one
battle and to (instantly) enter the lists [lit.
Diego. Rodrigo has regained breath in
relating to you this [i.e. the history of
Fernando. I desire that he should rest at
least an hour or two; but, for fear that such a
combat may be considered as a precedent, to
testify to all that I permit, with regret, a
sanguinary ordeal which has never pleased me, it
shall not have the presence either of myself or
of my court. [To Don Arias.] You alone
shall judge of the valor of the combatants. Take
care that both act like men of honor [lit.
courage], and, the combat ended, bring the
victor to me. Whoever he may be, the same reward
is gained by his exertions; I desire with my own
hand to present him to Chimène, and that, as a
recompense, he may receive her plighted faith.
Chimène. What, sire! [would you] impose on
me so stern a law?
Fernando. Thou complainest of it; but thy
love, far from acknowledging thy complaint, if
Rodrigo be the conqueror, without restraint
accepts [the conditions]. Cease to murmur
against such a gentle decree; whichever of the
two be the victor, I shall make him thy spouse.
Act the Fifth.
Scene I.—Don Rodrigo and Chimène.
Chimène. What! Rodrigo! In broad daylight!
Whence comes this audacity? Go, thou art ruining
my honor; retire, I beseech thee.
Rodrigo. I go to die, dear lady, and I come
to bid you in this place, before the mortal
blow, a last adieu. This unchangeable love,
which binds me beneath your laws, dares not to
accept my death without paying to you homage for
Chimène. Thou art going to death!
Rodrigo. I speed to those happy moments
which will deliver my life from your (feelings
Chimène. Thou art going to death! Is Don
Sancho, then, so formidable, that he can inspire
terror in this invincible heart? What has
rendered thee so weak? or what renders him so
strong? Does Rodrigo go to fight, and believe
himself already slain [lit. dead]? He who
has not feared the Moors nor my father, goes to
fight Don Sancho, and already despairs? Thus,
then, thy courage lowers itself in the [hour of]
Rodrigo. I speed [lit. I run] to my
punishment, and not to the combat; and, since
you seek my death, my faithful ardor will
readily deprive me of the desire of defending my
life. I have always the same courage, but I have
not the [strong] arm, when it is needed, to
preserve that which does not please you; and
already this night would have been fatal to me,
if I had fought for my own private wrong; but,
defending my king, his people, and my country,
by carelessly defending myself, I should have
betrayed them. My high-born spirit does
not hate life so much as to wish to depart
from it by
perfidy, now that it regards my interests only.
You demand my death—I accept its decree. Your
resentment chose the hand of another; I was
unworthy [lit. I did not deserve] to die
by yours. They shall not see me repel its blows;
I owe more respect to him [the champion] who
fights for you; and delighted to think that it
is from you these [blows] proceed—since it is
your honor that his arms sustain—I shall present
to him my unprotected [or, defenceless]
breast, worshipping through his hand thine that
Chimène. If the just vehemence of a sad
[sense of] duty, which causes me, in spite of
myself, to follow after thy valiant life,
prescribes to thy love a law so severe, that it
surrenders thee without defence to him who
combats for me, in this infatuation [lit.
blindness], lose not the recollection, that,
with thy life, thine honor is tarnished, and
that, in whatever renown Rodrigo may have lived,
when men shall know him to be dead, they will
believe him conquered. Thine honor is dearer to
thee than I am dear, since it steeps thine hands
in the blood of my father, and causes thee to
renounce, in spite of thy love, the sweet hope
of gaining me. I see thee, however, pay such
little regard to it [honor], that, without
fighting, thou wishest to be overcome. What
inconsistency [lit. unequality] mars thy
valor! Why hast thou it [that valor] no more? or
why didst thou possess it [formerly]? What! art
thou valiant only to do me an injury? Unless it
be to offend [or, injure] me, hast thou
no courage at all? And dost thou treat my father
with such rigor [i.e. so far disparage
the memory of my father], that, after having
conquered him, thou wilt endure a conqueror? Go!
without wishing to die, leave me to pursue thee,
and defend thine honor, if thou wilt no longer
Rodrigo. After the death of the count and
of the Moors, will my renown still require other
achievements? That [glory] may scorn the care of
defending myself; it is known that my courage
dares to attempt all, that my valor can
accomplish all, and that, here below [lit.
under the heavens], in comparison with mine
honor, nothing is precious to me. No! no! in
this combat, whatever thou may'st please to
think, Rodrigo may die without risking his
renown: without men daring to accuse him of
having wanted spirit: without being considered
as conquered, without enduring a conqueror. They
will say only: "He adored Chimène; he would not
live and merit her hatred; he yielded himself to
the severity of his fate, which compelled his
mistress to seek his death; she wished for his
life [lit. head], and his magnanimous
heart, had that been refused to her, would have
considered it a crime. To avenge his honor, he
lost his love; to avenge his mistress, he
forsook life, preferring (whatever hope may have
enslaved his soul) his honor to Chimène, and
Chimène to his existence." Thus, then, you will
see that my death in this conflict, far from
obscuring my glory, will increase its value; and
this honor will follow my voluntary death, that
no other than myself could have satisfied you
[for the death of your father].
Chimène. Since, to prevent thee from rushing
to destruction, thy life and thine honor are
[but] feeble inducements, if ever I loved thee,
dear Rodrigo, in return [for that love], defend
thyself now, to rescue me from Don Sancho.
Fight, to release me from a compact which
delivers me to the object of my aversion. Shall
I say more to thee? Go, think of thy defence, to
overcome my sense of duty, to impose on me
silence; and if thou feelest thine heart still
enamored for me, come forth, as a conqueror,
from a combat of which Chimène is the reward.
Adieu; this thoughtlessly uttered
let slip] word causes me to blush for shame!
Rodrigo. Where is the foe I could not now
subdue? Come forth, [warriors] of Navarre,
Morocco, and Castile! and all the heroes that
Spain has produced; unite together and form an
army, to contend against one hand thus nerved
[to action]. Unite all your efforts against a
hope so sweet—you have too little power to
succeed in destroying it!
listen to thee still, pride of my birth, that
makest a crime out of my passions? Shall I
listen to thee, love, whose delicious power
causes my desires to rebel against this proud
tyrant? Poor princess! to which of the two
oughtest thou to yield obedience? Rodrigo, thy
valor renders thee worthy of me; but although
thou art valiant, thou art not the son of a
fate, whose severity separates my glory and my
desires! Is it decreed [lit. said], that
the choice of [a warrior of] such rare merit
should cost my passion such great anguish? O
heaven! for how many sorrows [lit. sighs]
must my heart prepare itself, if, after such a
long, painful struggle, it never succeeds in
either extinguishing the love, or accepting the
there are too many scruples, and my reason is
alarmed at the contempt of a choice so worthy;
although to monarchs only my [proud] birth may
assign me, Rodrigo, with honor I shall live
under thy laws. After having conquered two
kings, couldst thou fail in obtaining a crown?
And this great name of Cid, which thou hast just
now won—does it not show too clearly
thou art destined to reign?
worthy of me, but he belongs to Chimène; the
present which I made of him [to her], injures
me. Between them, the death of a father has
interposed so little hatred, that the duty of
blood with regret pursues him. Thus let us hope
for no advantage, either from his transgression
or from my grief, since, to punish me, destiny
has allowed that love should continue even
between two enemies.
Infanta. Whence [i.e. for what
purpose] comest thou, Leonora?
Leonora. To congratulate you, dear lady, on
the tranquillity which at last your soul has
Infanta. From what quarter can tranquillity
come [lit. whence should this
tranquillity come], in an accumulation of
Leonora. If love lives on hope, and if it
dies with it, Rodrigo can no more charm your
heart; you know of the combat in which Chimène
involves him; since he must die in it, or become
her husband, your hope is dead and your spirit
Infanta. Ah! how far from it!
Leonora. What more can you expect?
Infanta. Nay, rather, what hope canst thou
forbid me [to entertain]? If Rodrigo fights
under these conditions, to counteract the effect
of it [that conflict], I have too many
resources. Love, this sweet author of my cruel
punishments, puts into [lit. teaches] the
minds of lovers too many stratagems.
Leonora. Can you [accomplish]
anything, since a dead father has not been able
to kindle discord in their minds? For Chimène
clearly shows by her behavior
to-day does not cause her pursuit. She obtains
the [privilege of a] combat, and for her
champion, she accepts on the moment the first
that offers. She has not recourse to those
renowned knights [lit. noble hands] whom
so many famous exploits render so glorious; Don
Sancho suffices her, and merits her choice,
because he is going to arm himself for the first
time; she loves in this duel his want of
experience; as he is without renown, [so] is she
without apprehension; and her readiness [to
accept him], ought to make you clearly see that
she seeks for a combat which her duty demands,
but which yields her Rodrigo an easy victory,
and authorizes her at length to seem appeased.
Infanta. I observe it clearly; and
nevertheless my heart, in rivalry with Chimène,
adores this conqueror. On what shall I resolve,
hopeless lover that I am?
Leonora. To remember better from whom you
are sprung. Heaven owes you a king; you love a
Infanta. The object of my attachment has
completely changed: I no longer love Rodrigo as
a mere nobleman. No; it is not thus that my love
entitles him. If I love him, it is [as] the
author of so many brilliant deeds; it is [as]
the valiant Cid, the master of two kings. I
shall conquer myself, however; not from dread of
any censure, but in order that I may not disturb
so glorious a love; and even though, to favor
me, they should crown him, I will not accept
again [lit. take back] a gift which I
have given. Since in such a combat his triumph
is certain, let us go once more to give him [or,
that gift] to Chimène. And thou, who seest the
love-arrows with which my heart is pierced; come
see me finish as I have begun.
Chimène. Elvira, how greatly I suffer; and
how much I am to be pitied! I know not what to
hope, and I see everything to be dreaded. No
wish escapes me to which I dare consent. I
desire nothing without quickly repenting of it [lit.
a quick repentance]. I have caused two rivals to
take up arms for me: the most happy result will
cause me tears; and though fate may decree in my
favor, my father is without revenge, or my lover
Elvira. On the one side and the other I see
you consoled; either you have Rodrigo, or you
are avenged. And however fate may ordain for
you, it maintains your honor and gives you a
Chimène. What! the object of my hatred or of
such resentment!—the slayer of Rodrigo, or that
of my father! In either case [lit. on all
sides] they give me a husband, still [all]
stained with the blood that I cherished most; in
either case my soul revolts, and I fear more
than death the ending of my quarrel. Away!
vengeance, love—which agitate my feelings. Ye
have no gratifications for me at such a price;
and Thou, Powerful Controller of the destiny
which afflicts me, terminate this combat without
any advantage, without rendering either of the
two conquered or conqueror.
Elvira. This would be treating you with too
much severity. This combat is a new punishment
for your feelings, if it leaves you [still]
compelled to demand justice, to exhibit always
this proud resentment, and continually to seek
after the death of your lover. Dear lady, it is
far better that his unequalled valor, crowning
his brow, should impose silence upon you; that
the conditions of the combat should extinguish
your sighs; and that the King should compel you
to follow your inclinations.
Chimène. If he be conqueror, dost thou
surrender? My strong [sense of] duty is too
strong and my loss too great; and this [law of]
combat and the will of the King are not strong
enough to dictate conditions to them [i.e.
to my duty and sorrow for my loss]. He may
conquer Don Sancho with very little difficulty,
but he shall not with him [conquer] the sense of
duty of Chimène; and whatever [reward] a monarch
may have promised to his victory, my
self-respect will raise against him a thousand
Elvira. Beware lest, to punish this strange
pride, heaven may at last permit you to revenge
yourself. What!—you will still reject the
happiness of being able now to be reconciled [lit.
to be silent] with honor? What means this duty,
and what does it hope for? Will the death of
your lover restore to you a father? Is one
[fatal] stroke of misfortune insufficient for
you? Is there need of loss upon loss, and sorrow
upon sorrow? Come, in the caprice in which your
humor persists, you do not deserve the lover
that is destined for you, and we may [lit.
shall] see the just wrath of heaven, by his
death, leaving you Don Sancho as a spouse.
Chimène. Elvira, the griefs which I endure
are sufficient: do not redouble them by this
fatal augury. I wish, if I can, to avoid both;
but if not, in this conflict Rodrigo has all my
prayers; not because a weak [lit.
foolish] affection inclines me to his side, but
because, if he were conquered, I should become
[the bride] of Don Sancho. This fear creates [lit.
causes to be born] my desire——
I see, unhappy [woman that I am]! Elvira, all is
Scene V.—Don Sancho,
Sancho. Compelled to bring this sword to thy
Chimène. What! still [all] reeking with the
blood of Rodrigo! Traitor, dost thou dare to
show thyself before mine eyes, after having
taken from me that [being] whom I love the best?
Declare thyself my love, and thou hast no more
to fear. My father is satisfied; cease to
restrain thyself. The same [death] stroke has
placed my honor in safety, my soul in despair,
and my passion at liberty!
Sancho. With a mind more calmly collected——
Chimène. Dost thou still speak to me,
detestable assassin of a hero whom I adore? Go;
you fell upon him treacherously. A warrior so
valiant would never have sunk beneath such an
assailant! Hope nothing from me. Thou hast not
served me; and believing that thou wert avenging
me, thou hast deprived me of life.
Sancho. Strange delusion, which, far from
listening to me——
Chimène. Wilt thou that I should listen to
thee while boasting of his death?—that I should
patiently hear with what haughty pride thou wilt
describe his misfortune, my own crime, and thy
Diego, Don Arias,
Chimène. Sire, there is no further need to
dissemble that which all my struggles have not
been able to conceal from you. I loved, you knew
it; but, to avenge my father, I even wished to
sacrifice so dear a being [as Rodrigo]. Sire,
your majesty may have seen how I have made love
yield to duty. At last, Rodrigo is dead; and his
death has converted me from an unrelenting
foe into an
afflicted lover. I owed this revenge to him who
gave me existence; and to my love I now owe
these tears. Don Sancho has destroyed me in
undertaking my defence; and I am the reward of
the arm which destroys me. Sire, if compassion
can influence a king, for mercy's sake revoke a
law so severe. As the reward of a victory by
which I lose that which I love, I leave him my
possessions; let him leave me to myself, that in
a sacred cloister I may weep continually, even
to my last sigh, for my father and my lover.
Diego. In brief, she loves, sire, and no
longer believes it a crime to acknowledge with
her own lips a lawful affection.
Fernando. Chimène, be undeceived [lit.
come out from thine error]; thy lover is not
dead, and the vanquished Don Sancho has given
thee a false report.
Sancho. Sire, a little too much eagerness,
in spite of me, has misled her; I came from the
combat to tell her the result. This noble
warrior of whom her heart is enamored, when he
had disarmed me, spoke to me thus: "Fear
nothing—I would rather leave the victory
uncertain, than shed blood risked in defence of
Chimène; but, since my duty calls me to the
King, go, tell her of our combat [on my behalf];
on the part of the conqueror, carry her thy
sword." Sire, I came; this weapon deceived her;
seeing me return, she believed me to be
conqueror, and her resentment suddenly betrayed
her love, with such excitement and so much
impatience, that I could not obtain a moment's
hearing. As for me, although conquered, I
consider myself fortunate; and in spite of the
interests of my enamored heart, [though] losing
infinitely, I still love my defeat, which causes
the triumph of a love so
Fernando. My daughter, there is no need to
blush for a passion so glorious, nor to seek
means of making a disavowal of it; a laudable
[sense of] shame in vain solicits thee; thy
honor is redeemed, and thy duty performed; thy
father is satisfied, and it was to avenge him
that thou didst so often place thy Rodrigo in
danger. Thou seest how heaven otherwise ordains.
Having done so much for him [i.e. thy
father], do something for thyself; and be not
rebellious against my command, which gives thee
a spouse beloved so dearly.
Diego, Don Arias,
Infanta. Dry thy tears, Chimène, and receive
without sadness this noble conqueror from the
hands of thy princess.
Rodrigo. Be not offended, sire, if in your
presence an impassioned homage causes me to
kneel before her [lit. casts me before
her knees]. I come not here to ask for [the
reward of] my victory; I come once more [or,
anew] to offer you my head, dear lady. My love
shall not employ in my own favor either the law
of the combat or the will of the King. If all
that has been done is too little for a father,
say by what means you must be satisfied. Must I
still contend against a thousand and a thousand
rivals, and to the two ends of the earth extend
my labors, myself alone storm a camp, put to
flight an army, surpass the renown of fabulous
heroes? If my deep offence can be by that means
washed away, I dare undertake all, and can
accomplish all. But if this proud honor, always
cannot be appeased without the death of the
guilty [offender], arm no more against me the
power of mortals; mine head is at thy feet,
avenge thyself by thine own hands; thine hands
alone have the right to vanquish the invincible.
Take thou a vengeance to all others impossible.
But at least let my death suffice to punish me;
banish me not from thy remembrance, and, since
my doom preserves your honor, to recompense
yourself for this, preserve my memory, and say
sometimes, when deploring my fate: "Had he not
loved me, he would not have died."
Chimène. Rise, Rodrigo. I must confess it,
sire, I have said too much to be able to unsay
it. Rodrigo has noble qualities which I cannot
hate; and, when a king commands, he ought to be
obeyed. But to whatever [fate] you may have
already doomed me, can you, before your eyes,
tolerate this union? And when you desire this
effort from my feeling of duty, is it entirely
in accord with your sense of justice? If Rodrigo
becomes so indispensable to the state, of that
which he has done for you ought I to be the
reward, and surrender myself to the everlasting
reproach of having imbrued my hands in the blood
of a father?
Fernando. Time has often rendered lawful
that which at first seemed impossible, without
being a crime. Rodrigo has won thee, and thou
art justly his. But, although his valor has by
conquest obtained thee to-day, it would need
that I should become the enemy of thy
self-respect, to give him so soon the reward of
his victory. This bridal deferred does not break
a law, which, without specifying the time,
devotes thy faith to him. Take a year, if thou
wilt, to dry thy tears; Rodrigo, in the mean
time, must take up arms. After having vanquished
the Moors on our borders, overthrown their
plans, and repulsed their attacks, go,
war even into their country, command my army,
and ravage their territory. At the mere name of
Cid they will tremble with dismay. They have
named thee lord! they will desire thee as their
king! But, amidst thy brilliant [lit.
high] achievements, be thou to her always
faithful; return, if it be possible, still more
worthy of her, and by thy great exploits acquire
such renown, that it may be glorious for her to
espouse thee then.
Rodrigo. To gain Chimène, and for your
service, what command can be issued to me that
mine arm cannot accomplish? Yet, though absent
from her [dear] eyes, I must suffer grief, sire,
I have too much happiness in being able—to hope!
Fernando. Hope in thy manly resolution; hope
in my promise, and already possessing the heart
of thy mistress, let time, thy valor, and thy
king exert themselves [lit. do, or act],
to overcome a scrupulous feeling of honor which
is contending against thee.